Atomic Spaces

Atomic Spaces : Living on the Manhattan Project

3.69 (13 ratings by Goodreads)
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'The atomic bomb. As ominous as the atomic legacy itself, these words conjure a stark image of a mushroom cloud, devastation, and death by radiation. Code-named the Manhattan Project, the detailed plans for developing an atomic bomb were impelled by urgency and shrouded in secrecy. The Manhattan Engineer District, the coded designation for the numerous sites where the volatile bomb components were developed, included not only university laboratories, but also geographically remote locations where civilians and scientists clashed with the requirements of military culture. "Atomic Spaces" tells the story of the project's three key sites: Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico. Drawing from tens of thousands of never-before-studied documents, from house plans to medical records, Peter Bacon Hales trains a cultural historian's eye on the worlds within the fences'.'The result is a bold, graphic reinterpretation of these sites and the larger issues they represented: the clashes between ideals of obedience and freedom, efficiency and democracy. Out of these, Hales proposes, came a new form of American culture. Creating an atomic bomb was an utterly new, dangerous, and urgent mission, one that seemed to justify ignoring known environmental hazards, downplaying dangers, and covering up accidents; yet as part of our atomic legacy, some of these wartime imperatives endure in peacetime practices in the military and defense industries. Peter Bacon Hales, a professor of art history and director of the American Studies Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is the author of "Silver Cities: The Photography of American Urbanization, 1839-1915 and William Henry Jackson and the Transformation of the American Landscape"'.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 456 pages
  • 210.8 x 253.2 x 29.5mm | 1,388.43g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252068319
  • 9780252068317

Review quote

Runner up for the Parkman Prize for 98, awarded for the best book in American history, by the Society for American Historians: "In an extraordinarily imaginative interdisciplinary treatment of architecture, community planning, technology, environmental history, politics, and race and gender relations, Hales raises searching questions about the broadest implications of the coming atomic age." "Hales combines careful research with stylistic power, a playful intellect, a strong visual sense, and an unobtrusive but keen moral sensibility." - Paul Boyer, Lingua Franca "Paints a vivid picture of what it must have been like to live and work at the three atomic development sites in the 1940's-Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford... Especially interesting are the chapters on the treatment of women and ethnic minorities, on censorship restrictions and use of coded language at the sites, and on the first blast at Trinity and its effects." - George M. Eberhart, College and Research Libraries News "While Hales's detailed history is more than the casual reader may wish to tackle, the author's exploration of the story's human and mythological elements should broaden the book's appeal... Recommended for academic and larger public libraries." - Gary D. Barber, Library Journal "Hales's extensive research into the relationships among the military, contractors, scientists, local and state authorities and workers forms the core of this book. He provides a fascinating glimpse into the complex and overlapping interests and intentions that structured relationships at the sites across lines of gender, race and class." - Grant H. Kester, The Nation "Drawing on memoirs, declassified government files, unpublished letters and diaries, Hales ... has assembled a cultural history of the Manhattan Engineer District-more familiarly, the Manhattan Project... This is an engaging book encompassing everything from utopian architectural plans to the subject of race relations and the role of women. Sixty black-and-white photographs-archival photos and Hale's own photo essay-round out the book." - Publishers Weekly "Hales makes a signally important contribution to the burgeoning literature occasioned by the 50th anniversary of the atomic bomb... No syllabus of study of the atomic age will now be complete without this book, and it should equally enrich any review of the complex interrelationship of technology and culture." - L. W. Moore, Choice "Hales' cultural history offers new perspectives on the dawn of the atomic era, and on its continuing consequences." - Science "A sociologist and historian's dream, a thorough and overwhelmingly detailed history of the project, not the research or the bomb, but the people, facilities, organization, and social structure which grew into a huge national endeavor from 1942 to 1945... The Atomic Age buff will be thrilled with Hales' research and detail." - William D. Bushnell, Independent Publisher "Hale's book is a perceptive, well-documented account of the atomic spaces of the Project. His inclusion of eerie photographs, especially those that advertised the sites to prospective employees, effectively illustrates the gap between the ideal image and the dangerous reality - not only of the Manhattan Project sites but of our post-atomic world in general." - Cindy Hendershot, Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies "An impressive achievement, blending the history of science and of technology and the study of American culture and politics. The Manhattan Project was science's greatest contribution to the "Good War" and a founding event of postwar American science as well. Hales gives us a novel view of this difficult birth, asking us to recognize the dark side of our creation: its hazardous effects on workers, its terrible toll on the environment, and its antidemocratic and militaristic influence on our culture and politics." - Russell Olwell, ISIS "A professor of the history of architecture and art, Hales has an excellent eye for the vocabulary of photographs, the deeper meanings of social and cultural history, and the language of the Manhattan Project... [An] intriguing, pathbreaking study. - R. Hal Williams, The Journal of American History "Hales is at his best in his discussion of town planning, house types, and daily life in this jerry-built world. He is exceptionally perceptive in his analysis of graphic images. The stark 'Flow Circuit-Water Plant B-Area,' which depicts Hanford's intake and release of water from the Columbia, speaks volumes... Filled with intriguing observations and insights." - Ferenc M. Szasz, Pacific Historical Review ADVANCE PRAISE "A passionate work that unmasks the encrypted histories and seemingly exotic environments of the Manhattan Project. Hales shows that the Project's half-life should be measured in the persistence of technologized values, dehumanized personal relationships, and hardened bureaucratic locations in American culture that seem to be protected from scrutiny or critique." - Eric J. Sandeen, author of Picturing an Exhibition: "The Family of Man" and 1950s America "Superb! Hales combines careful scholarly research with stylistic power, a playful intellect, and a profound moral sensibility in a wholly unique way." - Paul S. Boyer, author of By the Bomb's Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age "In Atomic Spaces, Peter Hales adds an entirely new dimension to our understanding of the effort to create the atomic bomb. In his intensively-researched, elegantly-written account of the major sites of the Manhattan Project, he provides a creative interpretation of the development of new communities and their impact on the men and women who made the first atomic weapons." - Allan M. Winkler, author of Life Under a Cloud: American Anxiety About the Atomshow more

Rating details

13 ratings
3.69 out of 5 stars
5 15% (2)
4 38% (5)
3 46% (6)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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