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Trinity

The Treachery and Pursuit of the Most Dangerous Spy in History
Narrated by: Anthony Howell
Length: 20 hrs and 56 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
5 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

'Trinity' was the codename for the test explosion of the atomic bomb in New Mexico on 16 July 1945. This exceptional book - Trinity - tells the story of the bomb's metaphorical father, Rudolf Peierls; his intellectual son, the atomic spy Klaus Fuchs; and the ghosts of the security services in Britain, the USA and USSR.

Against the background of pre-war Nazi Germany, the Second World War and the following Cold War, the book traces how Peierls brought Fuchs into his family and his laboratory, only to be betrayed. It describes how Fuchs became a spy, his motivations and the information he passed to his Soviet contacts, both in the UK and after he went with Peierls to join the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos in 1944. Frank Close is himself a distinguished nuclear physicist: uniquely, the book explains the science as well as the spying. Fuchs returned to Britain in August 1946 and became central to the UK's independent effort to develop nuclear weapons. Close describes the febrile atmosphere at Harwell, the nuclear physics laboratory near Oxford, and the charged relationships which developed there and shows how - despite mistakes made by both MI5 and the FBI - the net gradually closed around Fuchs, building an intolerable pressure which finally cracked him.

The Soviet Union exploded its first nuclear device in August 1949, far earlier than the US or UK expected. In 1951, the US Congressional Committee on Atomic Espionage concluded, 'Fuchs alone has influenced the safety of more people and accomplished greater damage than any other spy not only in the history of the United States, but in the history of nations'. This book is the most comprehensive account yet published of these events and of the tragic figure at their centre.

©2019 Frank Close (P)2019 Penguin Audio

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Detailed spying history with some nuclear physics

The book contains a mixture of the drama related to the story of Fuchs espionage activities and the science which he contributed to or worked on, particularly Nuclear bombs and nuclear reactors. Although I am a Physicist, I have learned several scientific things from the books related to enriching uranium, and the make of the super H-bomb.
I found the book to be a bit too detailed regarding the investigation of Fuchs. It describes in too much details his days and the activities of MI5 personnel between 1949 and 1950. However, it gives a very good impression of how lengthy and tedious such a processes can be, which I may not appreciate from watching similar stories through movies or documentaries.
I personally would have preferred to see more details of the technicalities of making the trinity bomb and the technicalities behind deciphering the messages obtained from the Venona project. That would make the book a bit less focused on the life of Fuchs and more interesting scientifically.