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This book is a history of nuclear weapons. From their initial theoretical development at the start of the twentieth century to the recent tests in North Korea, Jeremy Bernstein seeks to describe the basic science of nuclear weaponry at each point in the narrative. At the same time, he offers accounts and anecdotes of the personalities involved, many of whom he has known firsthand. Dr Bernstein writes in response to what he sees as a widespread misunderstanding throughout the media and hence among the general public of the basic workings and potential impact of nuclear weaponry. For example, he points out that it has been nearly thirty years since anyone has even seen a nuclear detonation. Likewise, the Nagasaki bomb, primitive when compared to more modern devices, generated an explosion roughly the equivalent of eight thousand copies of the truck bomb used by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City.
Jeremy Bernstein is Professor Emeritus of Physics at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was a staff writer for the New Yorker from 1961 to 1995. He has written some fifty technical papers, three monographs, and twelve books, including Albert Einstein, which was nominated for a National Book Award; Hitler's Uranium Club; a biography of Robert Oppenheimer entitled Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma; and most recently Plutonium: A History of the World's Most Dangerous Element.