Monday, October 22, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal

Nonfiction Monday is a weekly meme in the Kidlitosphere that invites bloggers to read and review a nonfiction book on Monday as a way to promote high-quality nonfiction titles.  Each week, a different blogger "hosts" Nonfiction Monday and provides a roundup of all the posts.  This week Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Hope is the Word.

Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

On August 6, 1945, Paul Tibbets piloted a B-29 over the Japanese city of Hiroshima and dropped an atomic bomb that leveled the city.  On August 9, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II and sparking a nuclear arms race with the Soviets.  Over the next three decades, countries around the world develop and possess nuclear weapons.  But how did it all begin?  It all started in 1938 with a scientist in a German laboratory who made the shocking discovery that uranium atoms could be split, and in doing so, release energy.  And if you split a stockpile of atoms all at once, why "you'd have by far the most powerful bomb ever built" (50).  What followed was the work of thousands of scientists from the United States, Great Britain and Europe who worked around the clock to harness this new-found energy to create a top-secret weapon, clandestine military operations to ensure the Nazis wouldn't get there first, and the efforts of a Soviet spy network to steal those secrets.

Having read Steve Sheinkin's previous work The Notorius Benedict Arnold, I knew I was in for something good with Bomb.  In his latest work, the reformed history textbook writer masterfully weaves together the many threads of this story to create a scientific edge-of-your-seat spy thriller, broken down into short, action-packed, easy-to-understand chapters.    Extensively researched and documented, Sheinkin's Bomb is everything you wish history class was - exciting, interesting, applicable - and nothing it wasn't.   What blew me away was how he intricately alternated between the different pieces of the story - taking the reader from the scientific laboratory in Los Alamos to the snowy terrain of Norway to a street corner meeting of spies in New York City within a span of ten pages - is truly amazing.  And it's all done so seamlessly, with just the right amount of historical context and use of simple diagrams to explain the most complex concepts of physics.  Sound too good to be true?  It isn't.  Put this one on the top of your TBR pile.

Recommended for: history lovers, science geeks and average people with no interest or insight into either military or scientific ventures.  Adults and teens encouraged to inquire within.

Bomb is one of five finalists for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

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1 comment:

  1. There is also a literature unit based on this book for teachers. It is geared toward high school English or social studies classes and is based on Common Core standards. It can be found at Curriculum Aids or on Amazon.