Monday, February 11, 2013

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

Hill and Wang, 2012 (a division of Farrar, Strauss & Giroux)

I have freely admitted that I do NOT like science or math.  I was always one of those people who excelled in literature and history, but numbers and letters make no sense to me.  If you told me that there was an amazing book about science I would love, I would have lied and said, "Sure!  Bring it on!" but the book would be stashed away, never to be read.  Until this book....

The atomic bomb and all of its terrible beauty is laid bare in this graphic novel from the first inception to the final aftermath.  It traces the A-bomb's lineage back to 1898 to the aftermath and its effects on the world.

Along the way, Fetter-Vorm also includes biographies of the many men and women who were part of the Manhattan Project from Einstein (who was first recruited to approach the President) to General Leslie Groves (who oversaw all of Los Alamos from beginning to end) to J. Robert Oppenheimer (the father of the inception of the bomb).  This historical part of the bomb was intriguing, stuff I love.  And then came the science part....

Electrons, neutrons, charged atoms.  Fission and fusion.  Atomic numbers and mass numbers.  Uranium, plutonium and isotopes.  While I read, my mind absorbed all of these facts, and they made sense! The reason behind this?  Fetter-Vorm uses analogies that made it more understandable, but more than that, it was the illustrations that made science (at least for me) really gel and stand out. I've sat through lectures about atomic numbers but all it took was two pages on this graphic novel for it to truly click.  That's the power of great writing and powerful images.

Then there's the politics.  Of course I've heard about the Manhattan Project, but I never fully realized how secretive it was (and I mean SUPER secretive) and how our political figures reacted and used this information, from Truman to Stalin and everyone in between, spies included.  The author showed the reader the first committee ever created for this project to the Potsdam Conference for the world leaders at the time.

But this story would never have truly unfolded if it weren't for the graphics.  They made everything come alive, from the fascination of U-92 vs. U-238 to the first detonation near Los Alamos, to the final, grisly destination at Hiroshima.  "A picture is worth a thousand words."  That saying aptly applies to this book and its subject.  This book is all about relationships, either at the atomic level or between men, and one that will fascinate as well as educate. Thank you Jonathan Fetter-Vorm!  This is history I've never really learned and am so thankful someone created a graphic novel for it. 
Highly recommended for 7-12 grade.

Streams of Babel (Streams of Babel, #1)Fire Will Fall (Streams of Babel, #2)  Fiction Pair:  Streams of Babel and Fire Will Fall by Carol Plum-Ucci ( )

1 comment:

bj neary said...

For those who have red Sheinkin's Bomb, this would be a great pairing too. Here is my goodreads recommendation: