Tuxedo Park : A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II

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9780684872889: Tuxedo Park : A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II
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The untold story of an eccentric Wall Street tycoon and the circle of scientific geniuses he assembled before World War II to develop the science for radar and the atomic bomb. Together they changed the course of history.

Legendary financier, philanthropist, and society figure Alfred Lee Loomis gathered the most visionary scientific minds of the twentieth century—Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, and others—at his state-of-the-art laboratory in Tuxedo Park, New York, in the late 1930s. He established a top-secret defense laboratory at MIT and personally bankrolled pioneering research into new, high-powered radar detection systems that helped defeat the German Air Force and U-boats. With Ernest Lawrence, the Nobel Prize–winning physicist, he pushed Franklin Delano Roosevelt to fund research in nuclear fission, which led to the development of the atomic bomb.

Jennet Conant, the granddaughter of James Bryant Conant, one of the leading scientific advisers of World War II, enjoyed unprecedented access to Loomis’ papers, as well as to people intimately involved in his life and work. She pierces through Loomis’ obsessive secrecy and illuminates his role in assuring the Allied victory.

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This must have been an extremely difficult book to write. Its subject, Alfred Loomis, never gave interviews during his lifetime and destroyed all his papers before his death. "Few men of Loomis' prominence and achievement have gone to greater lengths to foil history," writes author Jennet Conant. Had he not done these things, his name would be better known--and this probably wouldn't be the first biography about him. So who was Alfred Loomis? "He was too complex to categorize--financier, philanthropist, society figure, physicist, inventor, amateur, dilettante--a contradiction in terms," writes Conant. Loomis established a private laboratory in New York and hired scientists whose work in the 1930s wound up making possible both the radar and the atomic bomb. These developments were essential to Allied victory in the Second World War. Conant is perhaps the only person who could have pierced Loomis's obsessive secrecy and written this book; she grew up with Loomis's children and other members of his family. Her grandfather, Harvard president James Bryant Conant, was one of Loomis's scientists. Tuxedo Park is an important book about the development of military technology in the United States; admirers of The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes and similar titles won't want to miss it. --John Miller

About the Author:

Jennet Conant is the author of Man of the Hour: James B. Conant, Warrior Scientist and the New York Times bestsellers The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington and Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II. She has written for Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, Newsweek, and The New York Times. She lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.

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