The General and the Genius

The General and the Genius

Groves and Oppenheimer—the Unlikely Partnership That Built the Atom Bomb

James Kunetka

Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2015, 480 pages

Book Review published on: April 21, 2017

The General and the Genius is an absolute eye-opener into the lives of two men who helped develop the atomic bomb in 1945 and brought an end to the Second World War. Author James Kunetka brings the reader into a world that very few people know of. When people read World War II history books, they tend to focus on famous battles or famous people who rose through the ranks. This book brings the reader instead into the atmosphere that was created here on the home front.

Kunetka’s literary work is a history book that speaks of two men—Army Maj. Gen. Leslie Groves and Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer—who probably never would have met in the first place and how, together, these two men changed the way modern warfare would be fought. One of the many special attractions about this work is how Kunetka takes the reader into the scientific world of developing an actual atomic bomb. The estimates, the calculations, the cost of such a weapon, and whether the thing would actually work bring the reader into this intriguing world.

The other attraction of this piece is how Groves has to deal with and orchestrate this massive project under a cloak of secrecy. Securing actual sites for the creation of a weapon of this magnitude makes the reader think of how to accomplish such a task without the use of the Internet, FaceTime, laptops, and other things we take for granted in 2017.

This book is absolutely a worthwhile read. It is extremely relevant to the defense community because it shows that with a cumulative effort, anything can be done. The daunting task of trying to create a weapon of mass destruction, while in a race against Axis forces in 1945, led these two men to work together to attain a common goal. If these two men were not able to properly develop and implement the atomic bomb, then Allied Forces would have most likely invaded Japan in late 1945, and the war would have possibly continued into late 1947. Without the hopes of obtaining an unconditional surrender, there could have been an estimated loss of one million American troops.

What I look forward to, from Kunetka in his final draft, are the maps and pictures of the locations where all of these creations took place. The harsh living conditions, the lack of water, and the rough terrain over which personnel assigned to the project had to travel to work on the project are clearly brought to life by Kunetka. The author’s study of Groves and Oppenheimer makes the readers believe that they actually know these two men and are familiar with their unique personalities. I look forward to obtaining addition works by Kunetka.

Book Review written by: Maj. Leroy L. Cisneros, U.S. Army, Los Alamitos, California