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Churchill's Bomb by Graham Farmelo

Churchill's Bomb

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The world would have been a very different place if Churchill had changed his approach to the nuclear challenge. As Graham Farmelo makes clear, there were too many personal whims, reliance on dubious advice and the shoring up of what turned out to be a hollow reed, the US/British alliance. The story of the post-war period and the Cold War is a complex one – here it has been rendered understandable – a revelatory history of science and politics.

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Churchill's Bomb by Graham Farmelo

Churchill's Bomb reveals a new aspect of the great Prime Minister's life, so far completely neglected by historians: his relations with his nuclear scientists, and his management of Britain's policy on atomic weapons. Graham Farmelo, the author of the celebrated and prize-winning biography of Paul Dirac, argues that Churchill was far more interested in science that he appeared. He made brave efforts to understand the exciting and sinister new world opened up by quantum physics in the 1920s and 30s, and wrote repeatedly about the coming of unimaginably dangerous new explosives. Britain then was the world leader in nuclear research. But when the awful possibility of actually building an atomic bomb raised its head, Churchill made crucial errors that ensured Britain's exclusion from the American-led project to build the bomb. He neglected an offer by Roosevelt to give Britain equal footing on the project and marginalized the real elite of British science, relying instead on the counsel of Frederick Lindemann, a wayward Oxford physicist hungry for power and resentful of scientists more brilliant than he was. As a result, Britain lost its leadership of this cutting-edge science and was denied access to the latest research. Churchill allowed himself to be fobbed off with emollient words from the notoriously evasive American President. In this original and controversial book, Graham Farmelo shows a new and less flattering side to the great war leader.

About the Author

Graham Farmelo

Graham Farmelo is Senior Research Fellow at the Science Museum, London, and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Northeastern University, Boston, USA. He edited the best-selling It Must be Beautiful: Great Equations of Modern Science in 2002. His biography of Paul Dirac, The Strangest Man, won the 2009 Costa Biography Prize and the 2010 Los Angeles Times Science Book Prize.

Author photo © Paul Stuart

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd October 2013


Graham Farmelo

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