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{Download E-pub} ⚶ The Bastard Brigade: The True Story of the Renegade Scientists and Spies Who Sabotaged the Nazi Atomic Bomb à The gripping, untold story of a renegade group of scientists and spies determined to keep Adolf Hitler from obtaining the ultimate prize a nuclear bomb In the middle of building an atomic bomb, the leaders of the Manhattan Project were alarmed to learn that Nazi Germany was far outpacing the Allies in nuclear weapons research Hitler, with just a few pounds of uranium, would have the capability to reverse the entire D Day operation and conquer Europe So they assembled a rough and motley crew of geniuses dubbed the Alsos Mission and sent them careening into Axis territory to spy on, sabotage, and even assassinate members of Nazi Germany s feared Uranium Club As with Mr Kean s other books, being a tech nerd is helpful in appreciating many of the nuances The technical aspects are woven into the history, enabling us to better appreciate the efforts and status of progress of the various figures The hi story is a complex web, but extremely well woven Mr Kean gives us enough information to understand and appreciate what is happening, but not so much as to overwhelm us with minutiae I also liked his development background of the various figures As with Mr Kean s other books, being a tech nerd is helpful in appreciating many of the nuances The technical aspects are woven into the history, enabling us to better appreciate the efforts and status of progress of the various figures The hi story is a complex web, but extremely well woven Mr Kean gives us enough information to understand and appreciate what is happening, but not so much as to overwhelm us with minutiae I also liked his development background of the various figures involved From ballplayers to generals, we get a good sense of the different personalities This is important to the various interactions and conflicts between them For the amount of material covered, this is a relatively quick read Although it does seem to go slow at times, these are normally necessary to help us appreciate future or parallel issues He has done an excellent job of weaving an incredibly complex story into a concise, comprehensible story I listened to the audio version of this book It is extremely well narrated Review first posted on Fantasy Literature Sam Kean, who wrote the delightfully informative Caesar s Last Breath in 2017 about the topic of gases, including a section on nuclear bombs, delvesdeeply into the history of the atomic bomb in The Bastard Brigade Though the subtitle might lead one to presume that it focuses solely on the Allies Alsos mission, the group charged with thwarting Nazi Germany s development of the atomic bomb, this book is muchwide ranging in its topics The Bas Review first posted on Fantasy Literature Sam Kean, who wrote the delightfully informative Caesar s Last Breath in 2017 about the topic of gases, including a section on nuclear bombs, delvesdeeply into the history of the atomic bomb in The Bastard Brigade Though the subtitle might lead one to presume that it focuses solely on the Allies Alsos mission, the group charged with thwarting Nazi Germany s development of the atomic bomb, this book is muchwide ranging in its topics The Bastard Brigade is a sweeping account of the development of nuclear physics prior to and during WWII, the race to develop a working atomic bomb, and finally the Alsos mission itself Part I, set during the prewar years to 1939, introduces readers to the various personalities who will be significant to this slice of history, along with some of the physics discoveries of the time In particular, we meet Moe Berg, a Jewish major league baseball player from Newark who found he had a taste for international intrigue the French wife husband scientist team of Ir ne daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie and Frederic Joliot Curie and Boris Pash originally Pashkovsky , a refugee from the Russian Revolution who became a high school P.E and science teacher and, eventually, the leader of the Alsos mission There are manyscientists, including Werner Heisenberg, Enrico Fermi, and Samuel Goudsmit who later becomes part of Alsos And, I suspect just because his name and story are so recognizable, there s also Joe Kennedy Jr., JFK s older brother who was according to Kean obsessed with proving himself a war hero and outshining his younger brother.With Part II we launch into the WWII years, with a focus on the groundbreaking physics discoveries of many different scientists around the world The Germans got off to a substantial head start in nuclear weapons research and development, enough to deeply alarm the Allies, who soon threw tremendous resources into their own nuclear programs At the same time America was working on developing the atomic bomb, it was also assembling a group of scientists, soldiers and spies and sending them on missions in Nazi territory aimed at scuttling Germany s nuclear program, whether by stealing uranium, sabotaging manufacturing facilities, trying to convince German scientists to defect, or other efforts.The Alsos mission wasn t created until late 1943 This part of the story begins at the end of Part IV, on page 253,than halfway through the book, although there are several prior missions against Germany s nuclear bomb program The most intriguing of these are the British and Norwegian operations in 1942 and 1943 aimed at sabotaging a Nazi held heavy water plant in Vemork, Norway a deadly mission for many men.Kean relates these and other events in an informal, accessible way, focusing on the most interesting events and the personalities of the various players Though there s a detailed index and list of sources, this is not a scholarly text I did sometimes wonder about Kean s blithe recreation of long ago conversations and his conclusions about personal motivations, like Joe Kennedy Jr s supposed obsession with outdoing his younger brother s heroics Though The Bastard Brigade s subtitle suggests a that this book is all about Alsos, and b that Alsos actually did sabotage Germany s atomic bomb, the book s scope is far broader than that, and the actual degree of success of the sabotage efforts and their significance with respect to the end result of the German nuclear program is muchnuanced The subtitle is a bit misleading, is what I guess I m saying.The Bastard Brigade isin the nature of a traditional historical book than Kean s previously published popular science books Personally I didn t find it quite as appealing as Caesar s Last Breath, but it was informative and kept my attention I d give this book a strong thumbs up for readers who are interested in learningabout the development of nuclear physics and bomb technology, and about Germany s WWII atomic bomb program and the Allied efforts to sabotage it.Initial post Woohoo, I just got a hardback ARC Sam Kean wrote the amazing Caesar s Last Breath and I was absolutely delighted when the publisher offered me his latest book Now I just have to keep my husband a WWII buff from stealing this one until I m done I received a review copy from the publisher, which has in no way affected my review, and, in fact, I had already preordered the book before they contacted me, because Sam Kean is like a non fiction Scheherazade, and, frankly, it s annoying how easy he makes it look to expound upon complex scientific concepts whilst simultaneously regaling us with a crackerjack tale of historical whizzbangery I m looking into having him kneecapped, rest assured, but in the gentlest manner in which one can crack I received a review copy from the publisher, which has in no way affected my review, and, in fact, I had already preordered the book before they contacted me, because Sam Kean is like a non fiction Scheherazade, and, frankly, it s annoying how easy he makes it look to expound upon complex scientific concepts whilst simultaneously regaling us with a crackerjack tale of historical whizzbangery I m looking into having him kneecapped, rest assured, but in the gentlest manner in which one can crack a patella, because he seems like a nice guy and I m not a savage.In a departure from his prior books, which stitch together discrete and frequently disparate scientific and often historical tales around a unifying theme see, for example, Caesar s Last Breath, which is excellent and, to date, my favorite book of his , Kean tackles long form historical narrative here, disseminating scientific smart bombs throughout for maximum brain detonating effect as he chronicles an eclectic cast of characters intent on a mission with, quite literally, global life or death consequences trying to stop the Nazis from developing nuclear bombs.Look, Nazis are the ideal bad guys in ANY narrative, because, notwithstanding similarly philosophically situated bigots and ocher hued United States presidents, EVERYONE hates Nazis, so it s always a delight to see an intrepid and, in this case, eccentric group of people try to take them down it s equally fascinating to watch some of the era s leading scientists, many of them German, wrestle with morality, loyalty to country, and the difficulty of trying to do the right thing when a gun is held to your head metaphorically at the very least, if not downright literally on occasion It takes skill to create tension in a narrative when you know the outcome from the outset, it having been decidedthan seven decades ago SPOILER ALERT the Nazis did not manage to develop nukes or win World War II and, while we re at it, TV gets colorized, we manage to put astronauts on the moon, Milli Vanilli inexplicably becomes a thing, and people get so annoyingly entitled in 2019 that they seem miffed that a network ignores their petition to redo the final season of a popular show just because it didn t conform to the storylines they wrote in their fan fiction during the show s two year hiatus prior to its conclusion whew glad we got all of that out of the way, and I hope no one was so shocked by any of those heretofore unrevealed revelations that they just plotzed Fortunately, Kean has skill in spades though not necessarily AT spades I ve never seen him evince any particular aptitude for card games, though he could be a covert ringer Even knowing how it all turns out, you can t help but sweat a little as the Nazis get a dramatic head start on building nuclear weapons, both by virtue of some of the world s top physicists being within the Nazi sphere of influence and by a ruthlessly relentless effort to seize the necessary resources including heavy water from the Vemork processing plant in Norway, where Allied forces undertook a daring but ill fated commando raid in an effort to sabotage the supply of this critical ingredient Part of this is because of Kean s skill in fleshing out the characters in the narrative, including former big league baseball player turned spy Moe Berg and former high school teacher turned relentless and obsessed intelligence agent Boris Pash part of it is because the subject matter is just inherently interesting What I, whose approach to physics is akin to my approach to karaoke in other words, my enthusiasm far surpasses my aptitude , particularly appreciate about Kean is his facility for rendering complex concepts understandable He periodically uses graphs and illustrations to further, um, illustrate his points, but really it s the clarity and concision of his language that leads to such pellucid explications Even in a book where the historical narrative is the primary driving force, Kean doesn t lose sight of the fact that insight into the science behind the race to develop weapons of depressingly devastating deadliness is, in and of itself, fascinating not unlike me belting out a Bon Jovi deep cut well after midnight, though that s fascinating for an entirely different reason The focus of this particular narrative renders Kean unable to deploy his dad joke level humor with as much frequency as previous works, which is disappointing, and he doesn t go as deep into the science as usual so as to not steal momentum from the core narrative Note from my perspective, calling someone s humor dad joke level is perhaps the most complimentary thing I can say about it so, contrary to being an insult, that was actually lavish praise Still, for a first foray into full fledged historical narrative, this is a heck of an entertaining read and suggests that Kean is a versatile writer who will take us on a wide range of scientifically adjacent adventures in the years to come I m looking forward to every one of them, and still hoping he considers my proposal to team up on that sitcom For adetailed and highly gripping account of the raid on Vemork, see The Winter Fortress The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler s Atomic Bomb For an exemplary use of heavy water as a plot device in popular culture, see this episode of G.I Joe Sam Kean is already one of my favorite authors, and his latest offering is yet another fantastic blend of science and human interest The Bastard Brigade unfolds the Allied effort to prevent Nazi Germany from building an atomic bomb We ve all considered the horrifying counterfactual of Hitler obtaining an atomic weapon, and perhaps heard stories about the Germans confiscating heavy water or employing scientists like Werner Heisenberg, but in Bastard Brigade we learn just how close they did a Sam Kean is already one of my favorite authors, and his latest offering is yet another fantastic blend of science and human interest The Bastard Brigade unfolds the Allied effort to prevent Nazi Germany from building an atomic bomb We ve all considered the horrifying counterfactual of Hitler obtaining an atomic weapon, and perhaps heard stories about the Germans confiscating heavy water or employing scientists like Werner Heisenberg, but in Bastard Brigade we learn just how close they did and didn t come to succeeding, what happened to their three year head start, and the happy accidents and subterfuge that stymied their efforts along the way.It s a multifaceted story with a fascinating cast of characters, from famed baseball catcher Moe Berg who moonlighted as an agent for the OSS, predecessor to the CIA and JFK s older brother Joe Jr who was considered to be the real political heavyweight in the family, but died in a massive explosion aimed at well, I don t want to give that one away to legendary physics duo Ir ne and Frederic Joliot Curie Marie Curie s daughter and son in law and the aforementioned Heisenberg Many other notables play cameo roles, such as Enrico Fermi, Niels Bohr, Robert Oppenheimer, Wernher von Braun of course , and Lise Meitner There are many other lesser known characters, such as the three war veteran Borish Pash and the peaked too early physicist Samuel Goudsmit, who greatly affected the course of history.Kean has degree in physics, which comes in handy as he explains the various discoveries and breakthroughs that paved the way for the atomic age There are helpful illustrations to reify abstract concepts such as artificial radioactivity or uranium 238 transmuting into neptunium 239 and then plutonium 239 Kean has also assembled photos of the various players and locations, and provides as he often does online supplements with additional images and notes You can tell he thrills at the research, and does an excellent job at isolating all the best character building anecdotes and the most memorable and momentous historical asides The storytelling is tight, the writing is playful and sharp, the chapters are small, and we jump from location to tracking a handful of separate but connected threads at a pace that brings history and science to life Highly recommended, and not just for your dad who loves WWII books