Hitler’s Uranium Club: The Secret Recordings at Farm Hall

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9780387950891: Hitler’s Uranium Club: The Secret Recordings at Farm Hall

From April through December of 1945, ten of Nazi Germany's greatest nuclear physicists were detained by Allied military and intelligence services in a kind of gilded cage at Farm Hall, an English country manor near Cambridge. The physicists knew the Reich had failed to develop an atomic bomb, and they soon learned, from a BBC radio report on August 6, that the Allies had succeeded in their own efforts to create such a weapon. But what they did not know was that many of their meetings and private conversations were being monitored and recorded by British agents. This book contains the complete collection of transcripts that were made from these secret recordings, providing an unprecedented view of how the German scientists, including two Nobel Laureates, thought and spoke about their roles during the war.

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From the Back Cover:

September 1939: The Third Reich launches the first military research effort into the viability of producing atomic weapons. For the project, the Nazis bring together an elite team of German scientists, who call themselves "The Uranium Club". For students of World War II or the atomic age, or anyone fascinated by the intertwining of science and politics, Hitler's Uranium Club provides an opportunity rare in recorded history: the chance to eavesdrop on pivotal figures in history as they complete one era, come to terms with it, and prepare their strategy for the next. As noted science historian David Cassidy writes in his introduction, "It is as though these men were lifted out of history at a crucial turning point - from the age of conventional weapons to the nuclear era - placed within a timeless container, and told to discuss their past and future as the recorders roll".

Review:

"[Bernstein's] angered by [Copenhagen, suggesting] Heisenberg's attempt to play down his efforts for Hitler . . . may have been what upset Bohr." -- The New York Times, October 20, 2001 by James Glanz

(..) Did Heisenberg and the other scientists want to make the bomb? This insightful commentary explains the limitations of their knowledge and the materials available in Germany.... -- F. Potter, Choice

...a valuable part of the history of the modern world -- and indeed, well worthwhile reading for sheer human interest! -- Rapport Magazine

...an excellent source for understanding the ambitions of Heisenberg's team and the reason for its ultimate lack of success. -- Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 31, 2000

A most interesting and important contribution to the modern history of physics. -- Michael Eckert, Deutsches Museum, Germany

It is a fascinating document, revealing not only the limits of the scientists' wartime knowledge of physics, but their academic fragmentation, and their often lamentable concepts of political responsibility. -- Charles Maler, Center for European Studies, Harvard University

Jeremy Bernstein's thorough understanding of the physics, and his sharp but fair-minded criticism of Heisenberg's own approach to the problems involved, makes him an essential guide to the Farm Hall transcripts, and for me illuminated a great many things I had not properly appreciated before. -- Michael Frayn, author of Copenhagen

[The author] makes the technical discussions understandable to the layman, he compares them to the actual theory of nuclear explosions, he shows where Heisenberg's understanding is wrong and where it is right. -- Hans A. Bethe, Cornell University

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