Saturday, July 28, 2018

Book Review: Trinity by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb written and illustrated by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

America's development of the atomic bomb during World War II hardly seems like the sort of topic for a graphic novel. The science is a bit deep and the politics is a lot more complicated than people usually want to get into. So how well does this graphic novel tell the story?

The book sticks to the history (and has an extensive reading list at the back). The treatment is neither comic nor sensationalistic. After a quick review of scientific research into radioactivity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the author describes the political situation during World War II. Many scientists were worried that Germany would develop "the bomb" before any of the Allies. Such a weapon would have unimaginable power and probably guarantee victory to whomever built it first. So the race was on. The story goes through the development of the bomb and the first uses against Japan. The description of the impact on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is particularly harrowing--showing both the initial devastation and the lingering effects of radioactive poisoning on the populace. The aftermath is also described, including the nuclear arms race and America's preparation for possible attack (including Duck and Cover drills).

This book isn't the sort of introduction appropriate for little kids. It is valuable for teens and adults. I learned new things about the war and the Manhattan Project. I don't think the book is comprehensive but it is an excellent starting point for learning more.

Highly recommended.

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