The Race to Build, and Steal, the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

Book - 2012 | First edition.
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Perfect for middle grade readers and history enthusiasts, New York Times bestselling author Steve Sheinkin presents the fascinating and frightening true story of the creation behind the most destructive force that birthed the arms race and the Cold War in Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon .

A Newbery Honor book
A National Book Awards finalist for Young People's Literature
A Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year title

In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned three continents.

In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world's most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.

"This superb and exciting work of nonfiction would be a fine tonic for any jaded adolescent who thinks history is 'boring.' It's also an excellent primer for adult readers who may have forgotten, or never learned, the remarkable story of how nuclear weaponry was first imagined, invented and deployed--and of how an international arms race began well before there was such a thing as an atomic bomb." -- The Wall Street Journal

"This is edge-of-the seat material that will resonate with YAs who clamor for true spy stories, and it will undoubtedly engross a cross-market audience of adults who dozed through the World War II unit in high school." -- The Bulletin (starred review)

Also by Steve Sheinkin:

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Which Way to the Wild West?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About Westward Expansion
King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the American Revolution
Two Miserable Presidents: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the Civil War
Born to Fly: The First Women's Air Race Across America

Publisher: New York : Roaring Brook Press, [2012]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ?2012
ISBN: 9781596434875
Branch Call Number: J 623.451 SHE
Characteristics: 266 pages :,illustrations, portraits ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

List - YRCA 2015
EPLStaffMandy Apr 12, 2014

Intermediate nominee for Young Readers Choice Award 2015

From the critics

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Jan 02, 2020

This book was a very interesting book that I highly recommend to readers. This book is very informative and fun to read even though it is a non-fiction book. I think that teen and high schoolers would find most interest in reading this book.

It is about the race between German, Russia, and the United States to build the "world's most dangerous weapon" so that one of these countries could gain world dominance. This race would continue for a long time until Russia and the United States each completed the construction of the hydrogen bomb. The book starts when Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner discover fission. News of the discovery spread around the world that the force of splitting atoms could generate devastating destruction. Then the race began. If America could create a bomb, an atomic bomb, then it may end the war that the Germans started. Then, the American government got ahold on a Communist scientist named J. Robert Oppenheimer. He would lead the construction of the atomic bomb. America made allies with Russia in the war.

The Americans were very nervous during the making of the atomic bomb. They kept on worrying that Germany was ahead of them and they would complete the construction first. Then they would lose the war and American history would be changed. This did not stop the Americans from sending military expeditions to Germany to see what the Germans were doing. Spies discovered that the Germans were using a lot of heavy water that they got from a plant in Norway. Heavy water is used as a moderator in nuclear plants. Their plan was to destroy the plant so it would slow down the German's progress in building the atomic bomb. The first attempt that the Americans performed failed since half of the team ended up miles away. The second attempt was successful and they managed to close the plant. When the Americans found out that the Germans were many years behind the Americans in the construction of the atomic bomb, they finally felt relieved.

When the war ended, they discovered Harry Gold and a man named Klaus Fuchs that was passing information about the construction of the atomic bomb. They had them arrested and they found a complete diagram of the atomic bomb that they had sent to the Russians.

This story ends when the hydrogen bomb is created.

Apr 24, 2019

This was a very fascinating read about how the atom bomb was built during WWII. Sometimes non fiction can be dry in its recitation of facts. Sheinkin on the other hand clearly knows how to bring history to life. The author wove together different perspectives on the race to build the atom bomb, switching from Oppenheimer overseeing the U.S. initiative to Russia's covert espionage attempts at discovering what the U.S. was up to.

Sheinkin goes into a great deal of depth exploring the characters. He successfully rounds out these people in history as he investigates their pasts, motives, and thought processes.

IndyPL_SteveB Jan 29, 2019

Wow! Sheinkin is one of the best writers of non-fiction for any age and this book is as exciting as it gets. The author weaves three stories together: 1) Robert Oppenheimer leading the Manhattan Project (especially the part in Los Alamos, New Mexico) to design and build an atomic bomb before the Germans can. 2) The effort by British Special Operations to destroy Germany’s ability to build their bomb, focused on the incredibly brave secret mission by Norwegian underground fighters to destroy the Vemork Heavy Water factory in Norway. 3) The Russian spies who successfully stole the plans to the atomic bomb and passed them to Russia, leading to the Cold War’s nuclear standoff.

Sheinkin involves the reader by focusing on the stories of the people involved, from Oppenheimer and physicists like Richard Feynman to Norwegian hero Knut Haukelid, and to Americans turned Russian spies: Harry Gold and Ted Hall. The book reads like a combination of war epic and spy thriller. The writing style is suitable for any middle school or high school reader and it will also grab most adults. I would give this more stars if I could.

Jul 02, 2017

This is another one of my all time favourite books!!! I always re-read this book because it is so good! The author creates a thrilling, action packed novel that tells an inspiring tale of scientific discovery. I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves to read history!

Apr 01, 2017

Steve Sheinkin’s ‘Bomb -The Race to Build-and Steal-the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon’ was a very informative book. While this book was rated Juvenile, I believe that it is more appropriately suited for a reader 13 years-of-age to adult. It tells the story of the race to build the Atomic Bomb after the chain reaction was first discovered. It became obvious that Germany was trying to build this game changer and the United States and Great Britain recognized that they could not allow that to happen.

J. Robert Oppenheimer and a team of world renowned physicists including at least three Soviet moles/spies got the bomb designed after Germany collapsed and the decision to use it against a stubborn Japan was made by President Truman. Another must read for any 20th Century history buff. Highly recommended by Senior Doctor-at-Bass! D. A.

JCLChrisK Oct 27, 2016

Nonfiction at its best. Layered, compelling, suspenseful, and effortlessly informative.

Jul 26, 2016

Another adult here raving about this book. Don't let its intended audience of teens stop you from reading it. It's like several blockbuster Hollywood films rolled into one! I literally bit my nails while I read it--that exciting!

Jan 27, 2016

A must-read for all, including adults!

Sep 08, 2015

Bomb is a very interesting book. Even if it is non-fiction the author makes the story like a fiction story so it is very fun and interesting. It is mainly about Oppenheimer, who led a group of scientists to build a atom bomb. People said he was very unsocial and couldn't even run a hot dog stand, but he found out a way to lead his fellow scientists. While America was working on the bomb, Soviet spies were getting American agents to steal important information about the bomb. Bomb is a very good book.

Jun 29, 2015

It takes the stories of all the competitors in the race and puts them together. It shows how one competitor is related to another and how they feed off each other.

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Nov 19, 2019

dixiedog thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Apr 14, 2018

thevales thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Dec 11, 2015

Jratliffmoss thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Sep 08, 2015

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May 30, 2015

ckaldahl thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

yellow_ant_147 Aug 12, 2014

yellow_ant_147 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 14

Aug 02, 2013

mamajenn24 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 6 and 12


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Jun 29, 2015

When Oppenheimer felt the blast of the bomb at Trinity he quoted the Bhagavad-Gita saying," Now I become death, the destroyer of worlds."


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