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Manhattan Project: The Story of the Century

The US research and development program of nuclear weapons changed the course of history

Heidelberg | New York, 07 April 2021

Book cover: Manhattan Project

Balancing detailed historiography and narrating the bigger picture, author Bruce Cameron Reed answers crucial questions about the Manhattan Project, which contributed to ending World War II, whose legacy posed a constant threat during the Cold War, and tremendously extended the means of warfare: What are the scientific principles behind nuclear weapons? How did the Manhattan Project come to be organized? What were the circumstances of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing? And to what extent did the development of nuclear weapons rely on chance?

Therefore, the book is divided into nine chapters, each focusing on either the historical or the physical dimension of the Manhattan Project. Starting with three chapters about the physical principles of atoms and nuclear fission, Bruce Cameron Reed then outlines how the research and development program was organized and the practical and material demands that had to be faced. The last part of the book deals with nuclear weapons in World War II and the underlying political interests.

“Advances in science and engineering had given humanity the capability of annihilating itself on a global scale if an accidental or deliberate large-scale nuclear war were to break out. Nations that saw themselves as global powers would henceforth depend as much on the depth of their scientific and technological prowess as on traditional military capabilities as a measure of their influence.”, writes Bruce Cameron Reed and thereby summarizes what was at stake in the Manhattan Project.

The book does not only portray the history and scientific background of the US research and development program of nuclear weapons but also provides brief biographies of key figures, a variety of illustrations and diagrams, and a chronology of the history of nuclear weapons from the discovery of x-rays to the drop of the atomic bombs in World War II.

It offers sound insight into a milestone in human history for anyone interested in the political and historical ramifications of science with or without previous knowledge.

About the author

Bruce Cameron Reed is the Charles A. Dana professor of Physics at Alma College (Michigan), emeritus. He has published five textbooks and over 50 journal papers and semi-popular articles on the Manhattan Project. In 2009 he was selected as Fellow of the American Physical Society in recognition of his contributions to promoting understanding of the history and physics of the Manhattan Project. 

About the book

Bruce Cameron Reed
Manhattan Project
2020, 567 p., 152 illus., 25 illus. in color
Hardcover  €37,99 | £32.99 | $49.99
ISBN 978-3-030-45733-4
Also available as an eBook

Services for Journalists
  • The author, Bruce Cameron Reed, is available for interviews.

For booking an interview or for requesting a review copy, contact


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