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Trinity: The Treachery and Pursuit of the Most Dangerous Spy in History

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Klaus Fuchs knew more nuclear secrets in the last two years of the Second World War than anyone else in Britain. He was taken onto the Manhattan Project in the USA as a trusted physicist - and was the conduit by which knowledge of the highest classification passed to the Soviet Union. When Truman announced at the Potsdam Conference that the US possessed a nuclear bomb, Sta Klaus Fuchs knew more nuclear secrets in the last two years of the Second World War than anyone else in Britain. He was taken onto the Manhattan Project in the USA as a trusted physicist - and was the conduit by which knowledge of the highest classification passed to the Soviet Union. When Truman announced at the Potsdam Conference that the US possessed a nuclear bomb, Stalin already knew. This book, by an accomplished scientist as well as historian, is the first to explain the physics as well as the spying, and because Frank Close worked, like Fuchs, at the Harwell Laboratory, it contains much important new material.


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Klaus Fuchs knew more nuclear secrets in the last two years of the Second World War than anyone else in Britain. He was taken onto the Manhattan Project in the USA as a trusted physicist - and was the conduit by which knowledge of the highest classification passed to the Soviet Union. When Truman announced at the Potsdam Conference that the US possessed a nuclear bomb, Sta Klaus Fuchs knew more nuclear secrets in the last two years of the Second World War than anyone else in Britain. He was taken onto the Manhattan Project in the USA as a trusted physicist - and was the conduit by which knowledge of the highest classification passed to the Soviet Union. When Truman announced at the Potsdam Conference that the US possessed a nuclear bomb, Stalin already knew. This book, by an accomplished scientist as well as historian, is the first to explain the physics as well as the spying, and because Frank Close worked, like Fuchs, at the Harwell Laboratory, it contains much important new material.

39 review for Trinity: The Treachery and Pursuit of the Most Dangerous Spy in History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    Physicist Frank Close has a kind of dual writing life - which is ideal given he's here writing about the dual life of a German nuclear physicist who was also a Russian spy. Many of Close's books give plenty of detail on a specific aspect of physics - my favourite is his compact title Neutrino, a great introduction to this fascinating particle. However, Close also has a penchant for spy history. He's already given us the story of Bruno Pontecorvo in Half Life, and now we get a biography of the Kl Physicist Frank Close has a kind of dual writing life - which is ideal given he's here writing about the dual life of a German nuclear physicist who was also a Russian spy. Many of Close's books give plenty of detail on a specific aspect of physics - my favourite is his compact title Neutrino, a great introduction to this fascinating particle. However, Close also has a penchant for spy history. He's already given us the story of Bruno Pontecorvo in Half Life, and now we get a biography of the Klaus Fuchs. A communist from his youth, Fuchs fled Nazi Germany for the UK, where the outbreak of war saw him first treated as a suspicious enemy alien, but his expertise in the suddenly desperately important field of nuclear physics saw him brought into the fold, working on theory for nuclear reactors and atomic bombs, both in the UK and in the US, where he made important contributions to the Manhattan Project. Shockingly, when it all came out in 1950, it was also discovered that most of the time between 1941 and 1949, he was passing nuclear secrets to Russia - and without doubt made it possible for Russia to catch up with the West in its development of nuclear weapons. This isn't a heavy science book - Close only gives high level details of the physics involved - but instead it features a very detailed history of Fuchs' spying activity and the (frankly bumbling) process by which he was eventually caught. Rather than paint Fuchs in black and white as an evil betrayer of his adopted country, Close gives us a balanced picture that helps understand why Fuchs felt it was important to balance up what could have been total American nuclear world dominance after the Second World War and why his conscience seemed to force him to confess, when he had proved excellent at covering his tracks and dissembling in the past. I have slightly mixed feelings about the level of detail Close goes into. We certainly get to experience the reality of spying in all its sometimes clever, sometimes pathetic detail - not to mention the goings on at the Harwell nuclear research establishment in the UK, which seemed to have enough bed-swapping to make it an ideal topic for a modern drama series. It is also really interesting to see how MI5 developed from practically nothing to a professional(ish) intelligence agency. However, it did almost feel that Close was too, erm, close to his subject, giving us so much detailed description of conversations, journeys and so forth that at times it could become a touch tedious if not being considered as an academic title. Another small moan - perhaps because the focus isn't the science, there were a number of scientific typos. For example, chemical formulae are written incorrectly with the number of atoms shown as a straight number rather than a subscript, we're told 100 degrees Fahrenheit is the same temperature as 100 degrees Celsius, and uranium hexafluoride is described as a 'mixture of uranium and fluorine' rather than a compound. All trivial editing errors, but suggesting that the focus was elsewhere. There is no doubt that Close - who personally knew some of those involved - is ideally placed to tell this story, and does so with immense care. This was a crucial period in the development of the modern world, and whether or not Fuchs deserves the cover epithet of being 'the most dangerous spy in history', it's a story that is still important today.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laurielib

    Trinity by Frank Close is a fascinating look at the development of the Atomic Bomb at Los Alamos. Seen through the eyes of a spy, Klaus Fuchs, who for eight years gave the Soviets all the information on the development of the bomb. In fact due to Fuch’s efforts Stalin knew all about the bomb before President Truman. Fuchs was central to the creation of the bomb from its theoretical conception in the UK to the test explosion at the Trinity Site in New Mexico and beyond as the key player in Britai Trinity by Frank Close is a fascinating look at the development of the Atomic Bomb at Los Alamos. Seen through the eyes of a spy, Klaus Fuchs, who for eight years gave the Soviets all the information on the development of the bomb. In fact due to Fuch’s efforts Stalin knew all about the bomb before President Truman. Fuchs was central to the creation of the bomb from its theoretical conception in the UK to the test explosion at the Trinity Site in New Mexico and beyond as the key player in Britain’s development of nuclear power. Fuchs is a fascinating psychological study whose motivations were a belief in the purer aspects of Communism, maintaining equality among the superpowers and a hatred of Hitler’s Nazi Party. His conviction in the UK is a fascinating legal drama that leaves the reader with many unanswered questions. While most of the physics were over my head I appreciated Close’s detail. We’re visiting the Trinity Site in October and this book makes that trip even more exciting.

  3. 5 out of 5

    James S Lawson

    Excellent book but a bit too detailed A very important book. Extremely well documented but too detailed for the general reader. Fuchs was idealistic but not realistic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicky Whiting

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kit

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tim Peierls

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul Stevenson

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mike Pringle

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    Avi Bushra

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

  11. 5 out of 5

    Simon

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robert Mason

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    José Oliveira

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    Bh

  15. 4 out of 5

    Richard Carey

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    Joules

  17. 4 out of 5

    Colin Ring

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    John

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    Taha

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    Rachel

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    Cassidy Madison

  22. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Gómez

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    Joachim Ahlbeck

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    Nathan

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    Bob

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    Matt Fone

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mallikarjuna G

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    Nemalevich

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    Nicola

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    Milos Todorovic

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    Sam Schrauth

  32. 4 out of 5

    Liz Christie

  33. 5 out of 5

    Francisco Moreno

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    Eric Brooks

  35. 5 out of 5

    Covarxi

  36. 4 out of 5

    Richard Moore

  37. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  38. 5 out of 5

    Reid

  39. 5 out of 5

    Lori Tatar

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