Books: The Rewards of Doggedness

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Strauss battled for the hydrogen bomb against even stronger opposition. It included the four other members of the AEC, as well as J. Robert Oppenheimer, and most other scientists advising the commission. President Truman took the advice of Strauss (and others) and ordered the bomb to be built. In August 1952, seven months after the first U.S. test, the Russians exploded their first hydrogen bomb. Strauss resigned from the AEC in 1950, but in 1953 he was appointed AEC chairman by Eisenhower and served until 1958.

For most of its pages, Strauss's book is a colorful tapestry of "men and decisions." But when it deals with Strauss's political infighting, it turns a dull grey. Once again Strauss defends his role in lifting Oppenheimer's security clearance, in the Dixon-Yates contract, in the Senate squabble over his own confirmation. But he shows no understanding of his opponents' point of view, misses the irony that he became as evasive under congressional grilling as Oppenheimer did when queried about his Communist connections. But Strauss's critics should beware of charging him with arrogance; it was part and parcel of the doggedness that led Strauss to fight for the hydrogen bomb when more adaptable people had their heads in the sand.

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