• Churchill's Bomb

  • How the United States Overtook Britain in the First Nuclear Arms Race
  • By: Graham Farmelo
  • Narrated by: Clive Chafer
  • Length: 14 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (68 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Perhaps no scientific development has shaped the course of modern history as much as the harnessing of nuclear energy. Yet, the twentieth century might have turned out differently had greater influence over this technology been exercised by Great Britain, whose scientists were at the forefront of research into nuclear weapons at the beginning of World War II.

As award-winning biographer and science writer Graham Farmelo describes in Churchill's Bomb, the British set out to investigate the possibility of building nuclear weapons before their American colleagues. But when scientists in Britain first discovered a way to build an atomic bomb, Prime Minister Winston Churchill did not make the most of his country's lead and was slow to realize the bomb's strategic implications. This was odd - he prided himself on recognizing the military potential of new science and, in the 1920's and 1930's, had repeatedly pointed out that nuclear weapons would likely be developed soon. In developing the bomb, however, he marginalized some of his country's most brilliant scientists, and also failed to capitalize on Franklin Roosevelt's generous offer to work jointly on the bomb - and ultimately ceded Britain's initiative to the Americans, whose successful development and deployment of the bomb placed the United States in a position of supreme power at the dawn of the nuclear age. Churchill came to be terrified by the possibility of thermonuclear war and emerged as a pioneer of détente in the early stages of the Cold War.

Contrasting Churchill's often inattentive leadership with Franklin Roosevelt's decisiveness, Churchill's Bomb reveals the secret history of the weapon that transformed modern geopolitics.

©2013 Graham Farmelo (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Churchill's Bomb

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Loved it!! This was great.

Having listened to Manchester’s books on WSC three times, this book covers details into his second premiership that nothing else does. Really a great book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • B.
  • 02-27-22

Good story but narration was not great.

I liked this book and it’s wide span of history. The only issue was the reader had a rather annoying inflection at the end of most sentences. Perhaps it is my American ear.

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Worth the listen

This book addresses a part of atomic research I've been unfamiliar with: the pre-WWII history of Britain's nuclear players. It describes the fascinating dynamics between Rutherford, "Old Prof" Lindermann, and Churchill, Lindermann's oversized influence as Churchill's scientific advisor, and Churchill's connection with authors Wells and Shaw. I'd heard of Lindermann before but never realized his effect on policy, and was unaware the Brits understood much of the relevant technology sooner than the US. The narrator has a pleasing voice and inflects the story appropriately. Recommended.

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didn't enjoy this book

I was looking forward to the content; however, I couldn't finish the book. The narration was very dull.