Study Guide for DeGroot The Bomb: A Life

General remarks: Skim the questions before you read the chapter. Some questions direct you to specific points of information, others expect you to summarize or synthesize what you have read.

Chap 1:
1. Where and when were the first civilian lives lost to aerial bombing? Who was attacking? Who were they attacking?
2. Why would anyone in 1925 believe that “the bomber will always get through”? (This is not a question you can answer just by reading the book — think about the resources available to someone in 1925 vs. say 1945?)
3. How did bomber warfare prefigure atomic warfare?
4. What was the initial assessment of the possibility of using atomic energy for practical purposes?

Chap 2:
5. What was a cyclotron and what did it do?
6. What did James Chadwick discover in 1932 and what did Enrico Fermi do with it?
7. What historical factors led to the exodus of physicists from Germany and Italy to England and the United States?
8. Where and how was fission discovered?
9. By the end of 1939 how many nations were sponsoring research on atomic bombs?
10. What was the MAUD report, who wrote it and why was it important?
11. What had happened to the different national atomic bomb programs by 1945?

Chap 3:
12. What three methods of separation were considered by Groves at the beginning of the Manhattan project? What were the drawbacks of each?
13. What was the main purpose of Manhattan project work done at Los Alamos, New Mexico?
14. What was the main purpose of Manhattan project work done at Hanford, Washington State?
15. What was the main purpose of Manhattan project work done at Oak Ridge, Tennessee?
16. Why were the first bomb designs originally named “Thin Man” and “Fat Man”?
17. Who was David Greenglass?

Chap 4:
18. Why was it necessary to test Fat Man but not Little Boy?
19. What was the codename of the first atomic bomb test, and what did it mean?
20. What are the main effects of an atomic detonation? What are the main differences from a conventional explosive?
21. What political factors determined the date of the test?
22. What was the yield of the first atomic bomb?

Chap 5:
23. How did the strategy and targets of aerial bombing change as WWII proceeded? What was the difference between the British and American tactics?
24. What did Bohr try to warn Churchill and Roosevelt about? What was the result?
25. What happened in Tokyo on the night of March 10, 1945?
26. What factors, quite apart from ending the war in the Pacific, entered into the decision to use atomic weapons against Japan?
27. Why, according to DeGroot, did Truman not consider Japanese surrender a real option before Potsdam?
28. Who were the world leaders present at Potsdam, and what did they say to each other?

Chap 6:
I find this a very difficult chapter to read, so do the best you can.
29. What happened in Hiroshima on the morning of August 6, 1945?
30. Was the bomb detonated on the ground or in the air? Why?
31. How many people lived in Hiroshima in August 1945? How many died on August 6? Why is the final total so much higher?
32. Who heard the news at Farm Hall in England? What were they doing there?
33. On August 9, President Truman said,” …the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base.” Is this an accurate description?
34. What happened in Nagasaki on the morning of August 9, 1945? How many died? What was the final total?
35. Did the Japanese surrender unconditionally?

Chap 7:
36. Shortly after the war ended, why did Americans begin to question the decision to drop the bomb?
37. Who, in the Russian view, was the real target of the atomic attack on Japan?
37. What was the main rationalization developed, after the fact, to soothe troubled consciences in the United States?
38. What did Robert Oppenheimer mean when he called “this job” and “organic necessity”?
39. What is the Doomsday Clock and where do you find it?
40. What caused the failure of early attempts to extend knowledge of the bomb or control of the bomb internationally?

Chap 8:
42. Who was Klaus Fuchs and how did he contribute to the Soviet bomb project?
43. Who was Igor Kurchatov, and who was his closest counterpart in the Manhattan project?
44. Who was Lavrenti Beria, and who was his closest counterpart in the Manhattan project?
45. How did Truman’s response to Stalin’s Bolshoi Theatre speech affect the development of the Cold War?
46. What was Arzamas-16, and what was its closest counterpart in the Manhattan project?
47. What was Chelyabinsk-40, and what was its closest counterpart in the Manhattan project?
48. What were the motives of (a) Stalin, and (b) his scientists, for building an atomic bomb?

Chap 9:
49. Explain the concepts ‘nuclear stalemate’, ‘pre-emptive war’.
50. Who was Curtis LeMay?
51. What was LeMay’s first plan for nuclear war, and what were its drawbacks?
52. Why was 1954 ‘the year of maximum danger’?
53. What opinion or attitude on the part of American planners upset their British allies?

Chap 10:
54. What is the difference between a fission bomb and a fusion bomb?
55. Who was Andrei Sakharov?
56. What arguments were made in the USA and USSR against developing the fusion bomb?
57. Why did the USA develop the fusion bomb?
58. How did the USA develop the fusion bomb?
59. Why did the USSR develop the fusion bomb?

Chap 11:
60. [General knowledge] What was the original meaning of “The New Look”?
61. Why were no nuclear weapons used during the Korean War?
62. What was ‘Atoms for Peace’?
63. How did the USSR develop the fusion bomb?
64. What was the Bravo test, and how did it go wrong?
65. At the end of 1954, who had nuclear superiority, the USA or the USSR?
66. What is a ‘counterforce’ strategy?
67. What was the Single Integrated Operating plan, and why was it needed?