Manhattan Project Term Paper

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  • Subject: Literature
  • Type: Term Paper
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Excerpt from Term Paper :

Manhattan Project was one of the most documented events in American and World History. The discussion will provide an explanation of the Manhattan Project and how the project changed society forever. The purpose of this essay is to provide a historiographic discussion on the topic of the Manhattan project.

The Manhattan Project Summary

According to a book entitled The Manhattan Project and published by the Department of Energy, Albert Einstein was actually quite instrumental in the development of the Manhattan Project. According to the book Einstein wrote a now famous letter explaining to President Roosevelt advances in science related to chain reactions through the use of Uranium. Einstein asserted that this new scientific discovery could lead to the development of bombs that would be extremely powerful and destructive.

In the letter, Einstein also revealed to the president that Germany was already attempting to build bombs involving this new scientific discovery. Roosevelt was concerned and in 1939 he approved uranium research believing that America could not take the risk of permitting Hitler to develop such a weapon without America also attempting to develop such a weapon. Roosevelt's approval of uranium research marked the beginning of the Manhattan Project.

Basically the Manhattan project represented a concerted effort to research the use of Uranium. This research took place throughout the United States. The primary places at which research was conducted included Hanford, Washington (Engineer Works); Chicago Illinois (Met Lab); Oak Ridge, Tennessee (Clinton Engineer Works); Los Alamos, New Mexico (The Laboratory and The Town). There were also other locations utilized for the Manhattan project.

Ultimately it led to the development of the Atomic Bomb. The United States became the first and only country to drop an atomic bomb and this could not of occurred without the Manhattan Project.

Histographic View

There are many different schools of thought as it pertains to the Manhattan project and ultimately the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. This aspect of the discussion will focus on the various debates amongst historians as it pertains to the aforementioned issues. These historical debates will be discussed in Chronological order as it pertains to the dates they were published.

The 1960's

Let us first explore The New World: 1939-1946 published in 1962. This particular work focuses on the beginning of Uranium research, the development of the atomic bomb and ultimately the dropping of atomic bombs in 1945. From the perspective of Hewlett and Anderson uranium research and the Manhattan project were simply reflections of the New world in which Americans lived. This new world was complete with threats from other countries that compelled Roosevelt to approve atomic research. The threats presented by the new world also compelled scientists and engineers to work together to address these very real threats through the development of a weapon of mass destruction.

Another text published in the 1960's was Now it Can be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project. The perspective of this particular book is unique because it was written by General Leslie Grove. General Leslie Grove was the leader of the Manhattan Project from 1942 until 1947. The aforementioned book tells the story of the Manhattan project from his perspective. Unlike The New World, Groves book is a first hand account of what actually happened as it pertains to the Manhattan project. In the book Groves writes

About the great milestones in this evolutionary process which led to the Manhattan Project and to its end product, the atomic bomb, much has been written and to that story there is nothing I can add. I have recorded here only that which I am qualified to write about -- may own experiences during the development of atomic energy between September 17, 1942 and December 31, 1946, the period during which I was in charge of the Manhattan Project.

His historical argument for the Manhattan project was that it America's "single greatest scientific success." He also addresses other historians and writers who published books and articles about the project. Groves states that writers who were not involved in the Manhattan project were limited in their perspectives because they did not have full access to information. In addition he states that writers that were only involved in the project in limited ways also had a myopic view of the overall project. Thus his book focused on the entire project and the need for the scientific discoveries that came about during the Manhattan Project. Overall the book seems to suggest that while the dropping of the atomic bomb was unfortunate, the research and development that went into the making of the bomb was absolutely necessary. This necessity was borne as a result of Hitler's desire to develop atomic energy and build the atomic bomb.

The last book written during this era that will be discussed is Manhattan Project; the Untold Story of the Making of the Atomic Bomb written by Stephane Groueff. This book was published in 1967 and like the book by General Groves it contains first hand accounts of people who were actually part of the project. The perspectives presented in this book are also quite different because they are given be the people who actually built the atomic bomb, this includes the view point of individual who worked for industrial companies that were used to assemble the bomb. The historical argument presented by Groueff is that the Manhattan Project involved the participation of many different people and ultimately these people were collectively responsible the creation of the first atomic used during warfare.

In some ways the historical perspectives presented in this book are consistent with the comments made by Groves concerning the perspectives of those that only worked on one aspect of the Manhattan Project.

The perspectives presented in this book are not as detailed as it pertains to the science of the Manhattan Project, instead it tells the history of the project in plain terms from the point-of-view of people who were involved in some of the final aspects of the Manhattan Project.

The 1980's

During the 1980's there were also historical perspectives of the Manhattan Project that were presented. For instance in 1986 Richard Rhodes wrote The Making of the Atomic Bomb a critically acclaimed work of nonfiction that won him the Pulitzer Prize. Although the book was written by an author who was not involved in the project, it received a great deal of praise from scientists and others who did participate in the project.

From a historical perspective this book was different because it was more removed from the actual event than books and articles written in the 1960's. This distance allowed Rhodes the benefit of exploring research that had been compiled during the 60's, 70's and 80's. It was from this perspective that he was able to develop a book that told the story of the building of the atomic bomb. Again the comments made by Groves comes to mind as it pertains to books written by people who were not actually part of the Manhattan project. However, it seems that Rhodes was able to overcome his lack of first hand experiences by incorporating perspectives of people who had participated in the project first hand. Through his research he was able to compile a historic perspective that has been called one of the most accurate historic depictions of what actually occurred during the building of the atomic bomb.

In addition to the book by Rhodes, A Review of Building the Bomb: The Army and the Manhattan Project was written in 1987. This article asserts that this particular book focuses wholly on the army's efforts during the building of the bomb. The author asserts that "strength. It provides the most fully documented account imaginable of everything the Army did, but sometimes fails to ask larger questions that might enhance our broader perspective of the process that created the bomb."

The 1990's

During the 1990's quite a few historians focused on the Manhattan Project and the development of the Atomic bomb. Such historians were Robert Serber and Richard Rhodes who wrote The Los Alamos Primer: The First Lectures on How to Build an Atomic Bomb. This particular book is a compilation of the actual lectures that were given to scientists during the process of building the atomic bomb. Again this provides a first hand account from the perspective of an author who was not actual part of the Manhattan project. The book is rather technical in its approach when compared to books such as. The historical perspective of this book is unique because it provides the actual documentation that was given to scientist. In this respect it is different from other historical perspectives that only provide first hand accounts. While these accounts are important to revealing historic facts they can also be biased. However, the concrete information provided in the form of lectures in The Los Alamos Primer provides an unbiased view of how scientists went about building the bomb. On the other hand, the author also interjects his ideas…

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