a digital library of Unitarian Universalist biographies, history, books, and media
the digital library of Unitarian Universalism
Home » Biographies » Richard Rhodes

Richard Rhodes

Richard RhodesRichard Rhodes is an American journalist, historian, and author of both fiction and non-fiction (which he prefers to call “verity”), including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb in 1986. He is an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

Rhodes was born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1937. Following his mother’s suicide on July 25, 1938, Rhodes, along with his older brother Stanley, was raised by his father, a railroad boilermaker with a third-grade education.

Rhodes’s 1986 book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, a narrative history of the people and events during World War II from the discoveries leading to the science of nuclear fission in the 1930s, through the Manhattan Project and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Among its many honors, the 900-page book won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction (in 1988), a National Book Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award, and has sold many hundreds of thousands of copies in English alone, as well as having been translated into a dozen or so other languages. Praised by both historians and former Los Alamos weapon scientists alike the book is considered a general authority on early nuclear weapons history, as well as the development of modern physics in general, during the first half of the twentieth century. Nobel Laureate Isidor Rabi, one of the prime participants in the dawn of the atomic age, said about the book, “An epic worthy of Milton. Nowhere else have I seen the whole story put down with such elegance and gusto and in such revealing detail and simple language which carries the reader through wonderful and profound scientific discoveries and their application.”

In 1992, Rhodes followed it up by compiling, editing, and writing the introduction to an annotated version of The Los Alamos Primer, by Manhattan Project scientist Robert Serber. The Primer was a set of lectures given to new arrivals at the secret Los Alamos laboratory during wartime in order to get them up to speed about the prominent questions needing to be solved in bomb design, and had been largely declassified in 1965, but was not widely available.

Rhodes published a sequel to The Making of the Atomic Bomb in 1995, Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, which told the story of the atomic espionage during World War II (Klaus, Fuchs, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, among others), the debates over whether the hydrogen bomb ought to be produced, and the eventual creation of the bomb and its consequences for the arms race.

—From Wikipedia.org

Recommended Reading

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

Click here to view Supplemental Reading to Richard Rhodes on Amazon.

Series Navigation<< Michael SandelBayard Rustin >>

Notable in UU History

Foote, Arthur II (1911-1999)

Biographical Introduction Arthur Foote II, minister for 25 years of Unity Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, ... Read More
Mary Oliver

Oliver, Mary (1935-)

Mary Oliver was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She spent one year at Ohio State University and ... Read More

Washburn, Israel Jr. (1813-1883)

Israel Washburn, Jr. was one of seven brothers from Livermore, Maine who forged distinguished careers, especially ... Read More
Frederic Huidekoper

Huidekoper, Frederic (1819-1892)

The subject of this sketch deserves an honorable place in the annals of the Unitarian ministry ... Read More