Books: Fortuitous Failure

THE GERMAN ATOMIC BOMB by David Irving. 329 pages. Simon & Schuster. $6.95.

In the spring of 1945, with the Nazis on the verge of defeat, a small group of scientists crowded into a cave in southern Germany for one last attempt at starting a chain reaction in their uranium pile. It was far too late to produce an atomic bomb that could help the fatherland. But the scientists-unaware that the U.S. had accomplished the feat more than two years before—were determined that Germany should produce the world's first nuclear chain reaction before the...