Racing for the Bomb

  • by Robert S. Norris
  • Narrated by Peter Johnson
  • 23 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In September 1942, Colonel Leslie R. Groves was given the job of building the atomic bomb. As a career officer in the Army Corps of Engineers, Groves had overseen hundreds of military construction projects, including the Pentagon. Until now, scientists have received the credit for the Manhattan Project's remarkable achievements. And yet, it was Leslie R. Groves who made things happen. It was Groves who drove manufacturers, construction crews, scientists, industrialists, and military and civilian officials to come up with the money, the materials, and the plans to solve thousands of problems and build the bomb in only two years. It was his operation, and in Racing for the Bomb, he emerges as a take-charge, can-do figure who succeeds in the face of formidable odds. Revealed for the first time in Racing for the Bomb, Groves played a crucial and decisive role in the planning, timing, and targeting of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions. Norris offers new insights into the complex and controversial questions surrounding the decision to drop the bomb in Japan and Groves's actions during World War II, which had a lasting imprint on the nuclear age and the Cold War that followed. Groves's extensive influence on key institutions of postwar America has been overlooked for too long. In this full-scale biography, which includes archival material and family letters and documents and features several previously unpublished photographs, Norris places Groves at the center of the amazing Manhattan Project story.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Over the years I have read many books about the Manhattan Project and biographies mostly of and about the various scientists on the project. This book is about a man that was mentioned frequently in passing in the various books but nothing in-depth. This book is more of a biography of General Leslie R. Groves (1896-1970) than a history of the Manhattan Project.

Norris cover Groves early life, his life at West Point, graduating 4th in his class and after graduation going into the Corp of Engineers, he also explains how Groves developed his exceptional organizational skills and administrative skills. The author covers Groves' time overseeing the building of the Pentagon.

Norris states Groves was responsible for choosing the three key sites, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Hanford and for the construction of the buildings at these sites. The author bogs down the book with too much information as how many miles of corridors there we’re and how many windows etc.

At the end of the book Norris covers Groves’s role in the Cold War. Norris was meticulous with his research and had access to all the detailed information on daily activities, meetings, phone calls and so on kept by Gen. Groves’s secretary Jean O’Leary. The book is well written but does bog down at times. I found the book most fascinating.

If you are interested in World War II history or the Manhattan Project this would be an interesting book for you to read. The audio book is long 23 hours, Peter Johnson narrated the book.

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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."


A child of the 70s India, I knew about the Scientific side of the Manhattan Project and nothing about the Military side other than a few references in Feynman's books etc. This tale was all the more fascinating as a result. Secondly it gave me a view into the American mind of the early 20th century with it's self centered arrogance which of course is still around today.

Nevertheless it is a fascinating tale and well produced. Well worth the price and the time spent in reading it. Highly recommended.
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- Gautam Satpathy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-04-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios