Atomic Spy: The Dark Lives of Klaus Fuchs

Viking. May 2020. 416p. ISBN 9780593083390. $30. BIOG
With this newest work, Greenspan (The End of the Certain World) tells the complex and captivating story of Klaus Fuchs (1911–88), a German physicist who fled a Nazi manhunt to France and then Britain and, ultimately, came to work in the secret world of nuclear research during World War II and the early Cold War years. The portrait she draws of Fuchs is of a careful man, righteously impulsive in his younger years but passionately dedicated to what he saw as the noble cause of communism against the rise of Nazism. This experience, including time in a British and Canadian internment camp, added to his convictions and undoubtedly influenced his later decision to pass details of British and American wartime nuclear research over to Soviet agents. This continued through to his time at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. From student to scientist to spy, Fuchs is portrayed as a careful and quiet yet passionate man who nevertheless persisted.
VERDICT Thoroughly supported by a wide array of archival research, Greenspan’s detailed and authoritative yet equally interesting and readable study will appeal to readers of World War II and Cold War history, espionage, and nuclear history.

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