In an epic story of science and technology at the very limits of human understanding, science writer Jim Baggott chronicles the race to build humankind's most destructive weapons. From such declassified material as MI6's Farm Hall transcripts and coded Soviet messages cracked by American cryptographers in the Venona project, he weaves a dramatic narrative that spans the discovery of nuclear fission in 1939 and the aftermath of "Joe-1," the first Soviet atomic bomb test in August 1949.
"Baggott unfolds a tale in two interwoven narrative strands. Along one strand, readers see physicists as intellectual explorers, plumbing the tantalizing mysteries of the atom. But along the second strand, readers watch these same scientists acting out unscripted personal and political roles that expose their often-flawed humanity, not their impressive expertise."—Booklist (starred review)