Books: Chain Reactions $ THE MAKING OF THE ATOMIC BOMB

by Richard Rhodes Simon & Schuster; 886 pages; $22.95

As yet, there is no mythology of the nuclear age, though parallels with the legend of Prometheus are already apparent. Stealing fire from the gods had an incalculable price; the treasure was indistinguishable from the curse.

This is the burden of Richard Rhodes' excellent book about the visionaries whose pure science was alloyed with the tainted art of politics. Bits and pieces of the atom bomb story are well known, especially the dramatic race to Trinity by J. Robert Oppenheimer and his brainy cohort at Los Alamos, N. Mex. In Rhodes' comprehensive view, the blinding flash of that achievement climaxes decades...

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