March 29, 2011 at 4:30pm
Lewis Library 138
Michael D. Gordin, Professor of History
This talk explores the early history of nuclear weapons, a moment when the status of these devices was still in many respects up for debate and their future uncertain. Beginning with the integration of the atomic bomb into American plans for forcing a surrender of the Japanese government in the summer of 1945, up to the aftermath of the Soviet detonation of their first nuclear test (thus breaking the American atomic monopoly) in summer 1949, the emphasis will be on what people knew (and didn't know) about these weapons, and how that state of knowledge or ignorance shaped the perceptions and decisions of military officers, politicians, scientists, and the broader public.
Copies of Prof. Gordin's books "Red cloud at dawn : Truman, Stalin, and the end of the atomic monopoly" and "Five days in August : how World War II became a nuclear war" will be available for sale and signing.