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Books  >>  Kids Books

Steve Sheinkin

Bomb

Steve Sheinkin Bomb The Race To Build And Steal The World's Most Da
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Biographical note:

Steve Sheinkin  is the award-winning author of several fascinating books on American history, including The Notorious Benedict Arnold, which won the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for nonfiction. His recent book Bomb was a Newbery Honor Book, National Book Award finalist, and winner of the Sibert Award as well as theYALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. He lives in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Excerpt from book:

SKINNY SUPERHERO
 
 
HARRY GOLD WAS RIGHT: This is a big story. It’s the story of the creation—and theft—of the deadliest weapon ever invented. The scenes speed around the world, from secret labs to commando raids to street-corner spy meetings. But like most big stories, this one starts small. Let’s pick up the action sixteen years before FBI agents cornered Harry Gold in Philadelphia. Let’s start 3,000 miles to the west, in Berkeley, California, on a chilly night in February 1934.
On a hill high above town, a man and woman sat in a parked car. In the driver’s seat was a very thin young physics professor named Robert Oppenheimer. Beside him sat his date, a graduate student named Melba Phillips. The two looked out at the view of San Francisco Bay.
It was a fine view, but Oppenheimer couldn’t seem to stay focused on the date. He turned to Phillips and asked, “Are you comfortable?”
She said she was.
“Mind if I get out and walk for a few minutes?”
She didn’t mind.
Oppenheimer got out and strolled into the darkness. Phillips wrapped a coat around her legs and waited. She waited a long time. At some point, she fell asleep.
She woke up in the middle of the night—the seat beside her was still empty. Worried, she stepped onto the road and waved down a passing police car.
“My escort went for a walk hours ago and he hasn’t returned,” she told the cop.
The police searched the park, but found nothing. They notified headquarters, and a wider search was begun. An officer drove to Oppenheimer’s apartment to look for useful clues.
He found the professor in bed, sound asleep.
The cop shook Oppenheimer awake and demanded an explanation. Oppenheimer said he’d gotten out of the car to think about physics. “I just walked and walked,” he said, “and I was home and I went to bed. I’m so sorry.”
A reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle got hold of the story and wrote an article with the headline: “Forgetful Prof Parks Girl, Takes Self Home.”
No one who knew Robert Oppenheimer was the least bit surprised.
*   *   *
HE’D ALWAYS BEEN DIFFERENT. A girl who knew Robert as a child in New York City described him as “very frail, very pink-cheeked, very shy, and very brilliant.”
Oppenheimer was a tougher critic. “A repulsively good little boy,” he said of himself. “My life as a child did not prepare me for the fact that the world is full of cruel and bitter things.”
He was constantly getting sick, so his nervous parents tried to protect him by keeping him inside. While other boys played in the street, Robert sat alone in his room studying languages, devouring books of literature and science, and filling notebooks with poetry. Around kids his age he was awkward and quiet, never knowing what to say unless he could bring the conversation around to books. Then he would let loose annoying bursts of learning.
“Ask me a question in Latin,” he’d say, “and I’ll answer you in Greek.”
Hoping to toughen up their stick-skinny fourteen-year-old, Robert’s parents sent him to a sports summe "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." —BCCB, starred review

* "Reads like an international spy thriller, and that’s the beauty of it." —School Library Journal, starred review

* "A must-read." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "A superb tale of an era and an effort that forever changed our world." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "Sheinkin here maintains the pace of a thriller without betraying history . . . or skipping over the science." —The Horn Book Review, starred review

"[A] complicated thriller that intercuts action with the deftness of a Hollywood blockbuster." —Booklist


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