In 1943, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant, charismatic head of the Manhattan Project, recruited scientists to live as virtual prisoners of the U.S. government at Los Alamos, a barren mesa thirty-five miles outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Thousands of men, women, and children spent the war years sequestered in this top-secret military facility. They lied to friends and family about where they were going and what they were doing, and then disappeared into the desert. Through the eyes of a young Santa Fe widow who was one of Oppenheimer's first recruits, we see how, for all his flaws, he developed into an inspiring leader and motivated all those involved in the Los Alamos project to make a supreme effort and achieve the unthinkable.
""The Manhattan Project was a chapter of history rich in the drama of human strengths and frailties, as Jennet Conant chronicles in her illuminating 109 East Palace.... Yet, for all the doubts and hardships, the scientists and workers at Los Alamos were part of something extraordinary.... Thanks to Conant's vivid book, we understand why.""