Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb

Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb

by Richard Rhodes

Simon Schuster 1995

Big thick grinder of a book. Definitely not light reading. ‘Bout six hundred pages of densely worded information overload followed by another hundred pages of notes, glossary, and such all. Dark Sun is the kind of book you leave on the nightstand to read and knock yourself out with so you can get some sleep. Except that it’ll give you nightmares.

Richard Rhodes did his homework on this one, boys and girls, and it shows. It’s got everything. All the way from side issues like the Korean War to nitty gritty items like lithium deuteride. Everybody from Lavrenti Beria to Hoyt Vandenberg.

The development of the hydrogen bomb has shaped your life in ways subtle and direct. From your computer to the satellite that brings you reruns of I Love Lucy. Thermonuclear thinking was the midwife to this and more. And while you’re at it, be glad that you’ve got a life to be shaped.

You WILL NOT believe what General Curtis LeMay was trying to do in the ’50s. Playing with his goddamned Strategic Air Command like a seven-year-old plays with a G.I. Joe. Curtis thought a thermonuclear exchange between Russia and the U.S. would be a good idea. Sure, we’ll take a few lumps, but we’ll wipe the heathen bastards completely off the face of the earth. Brrr… Curtis worked diligently to provoke such an exchange, and damn near pulled it off. Whew.

And as a special bonus, Dark Sun gives you the diagrams to build your own thermonuclear device. Primitive perhaps, but who can argue with a 10.4 megaton yield? Where you come up with the liquid deuterium, enriched uranium, and plutonium to make this little home project is strictly your own affair, however.

The road to hell is paved with … uranium hexafluoride.

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