The Uranium Club: Unearthing the Lost Relics of the Nazi Nuclear Program

Chicago Review. Jul. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781641608626. $30. HIST
This tale of the hunt for Nazi uranium is just as cinematic as its tagline would suggest. Materials scientist and Smithsonian researcher Hiebert demonstrates how relevant this story is by interweaving scientific and military history with an explanation of the materials and technology required for atomic energy. The book starts with the discovery of a small, heavy cube of uranium, given with a mysterious note to Timothy Koeth, the former director of the Nuclear Reactor & Radiation Facilities at the Univ. of Maryland. Understanding this gift opens the story of a top-secret mission into the heart of occupied Europe to secure the Nazi nuclear program’s scientists and materials on the advent of the Allied invasion. The Americans had no idea what they would find, but their search is thrilling. The irony presented throughout is that the Nazis exiled or killed the Jewish scientists who understood fission and rejected their science. To outlaw ways of knowing will only bring about defeat, and the narrative, while it sometimes meanders through time and space, always returns to this point.
VERDICT This original and engaging take on military history will fascinate readers of popular science.
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