Friday, August 9, 2013

US Bombing of Nagasaki: Books on the Bomb

On this day in 1945, the US dropped another nuclear bomb on Japan, this time on the city of Nagasaki. For the Hiroshima anniversary, we looked at WWII in Asia. Today we're going to look about books about the bomb in general.


Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. This weaves together tales of scientific discovery, partisan sabotage, and spies as the US, Nazi Germany, and the USSR race to build a nuclear weapon while trying to keep the others from being able to do the same. Sheinkin spins a great tale of intrigue and science.

Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm. Starting in Europe in the 1800s, traveling to Los Alamos, Hiroshima, and beyond, Fetter-Vorm traces the history, science, and consequences of the atomic bomb. The graphic novel format is especially useful when he explains the science involved, making it accessible to most readers.

Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet. The Cuban Missile Crisis took place in the US, but this book shows how it held the entire world in fear. Clem was born when German bombs hit his house during WWII. He's in love with the local rich girl and when bombs may start falling again, what better time than now?


The Radioactive Boy Scout: The Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid and His Homemade Nuclear Reactor by Ken Silverstein. While working on a boy scout badge, David goes a bit obsessive and ends up building an entire mini-nuclear reactor in his backyard, which puts then entire neighborhood at risk due to the high radiation levels.

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages. A little young, but a great look at daily life at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. Dewey's a little weird and when her father goes to DC, she has to move in with bossy Suze-- a prospect neither of them is happy about. Follow it with White Sands, Red Menace.

The Ultimate Weapon: The Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb by Edward T. Sullivan. Sullivan's history of the making of the bomb differs from others in that he remembers that Los Alamos wasn't the only lab and that nothing would have been possible without the work at Oak Ridge and Hanford-- both sites that Sullivan gives their due.


Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) by Richard Feynman. Feynam was one of the Los Alamos physicists. This autobiography covers his time on the Manhattan project and more. He's very funny and while published for adults, this is a great one for teens, and not just science people. If you want more Feynman, follow it with "What Do You Care What Other People Think?": Further Adventures of a Curious Character.

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Leland Myrick. While Feynman tells his story in his own words, this one is a graphic novel biography, which gives a more rounded picture of the man.

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan. This book looks at the women who worked at Oak Ridge, many of them not knowing what they were working on until after Hiroshima. Published for adults, this is a good one for teens to look at--many of these girls were fresh out of high school when they went to Tennessee.

What are your favorite books about the Bomb?

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support YA Reading List by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links.


  1. I absolutely loved The Green Glass Sea. I'm going to re-read it hopefully next year.

  2. Brianna- Have you read the sequel? A really interesting look at the late 40s and the start of the cold war as the Manhattan project scientists really start to regret what they did.

  3. There is also a literature unit based on Steve Sheinkin's book, Bomb, for teachers. It is geared toward high school English or social studies classes and is based on Common Core standards. It can be found at Curriculum Aids or on Amazon.


Please be polite. Please do not spam. Please share other titles on this topic. I reserve the right to delete any comments that are mean, harassing, or spammy.