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Stephen Walker’s admirably evenhanded and smoothly written history, Shockwave, records the countdown from the explosion of the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos in July 1945 to the incineration of Hiroshima, Japan, three weeks later, difficult and dramatic material that he has turned into that rare thing: an important page-turner. Walker focuses on the people whose lives the bomb touched most profoundly, moving deftly from an incisive portrait of U.S. secretary of war Henry Stimson, a tortured soul desperate to end the war without resorting to the bomb, to the hotshot American pilots who eventually dropped it, to a Hiroshima doctor who treated its unspeakably mutilated victims. Never polemical, Walker forces you to draw your own moral conclusions, and he doesn’t make it easy.

Shockwave
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