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Man of the hour : James B. Conant, warrior scientist

Man of the hour : James B. Conant, warrior scientist / Jennet Conant.
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, 2017.
Copyright Notice Date
Physical Description
x, 587 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
"The remarkable life of one of the most influential men of the greatest generation, James B. Conant--a savvy architect of the nuclear age and the Cold War--told by his granddaughter, New York Times bestselling author Jennet Conant. James Bryant Conant was a towering figure. He was at the center of the mammoth threats and challenges of the twentieth century. As a young eminent chemist, he supervised the production of poison gas in WWI. As a controversial president of Harvard University, he was a champion of meritocracy and open admissions. As an advisor to FDR, he led the interventionist cause for US entrance in WWII. During that war, Conant was the administrative director of the Manhattan Project, oversaw the development of the atomic bomb and argued that it be used against the industrial city of Hiroshima in Japan. Later, he urged the Atomic Energy Commission to reject the hydrogen bomb, and devoted the rest of his life to campaigning for international control of atomic weapons. As Eisenhower's high commissioner to Germany, he helped to plan German recovery and was an architect of the United States' Cold War policy. Now New York Times bestselling author Jennet Conant recreates the cataclysmic events of the twentieth century as her grandfather James experienced them. She describes the guilt, fears, and sometimes regret of those who invented and deployed the bombs and the personal toll it took. From the White House to Los Alamos to Harvard University, Man of the Hour is based on hundreds of documents and diaries, interviews with Manhattan Projects scientists, Harvard colleagues, and Conant's friends and family, including her father, James B. Conant's son. This is a very intimate, up-close look at some of the most argued cases of modern times--among them the use of chemical weapons, the decision to drop the bomb, Oppenheimer's fate, the politics of post-war Germany and the Cold War--the repercussions of which are still affecting our world today"-- Provided by publisher.
"James B. Conant was a towering figure who stood at the center of the great crises and challenges of the twentieth century. He set an extraordinary example of public service without ever holding elected office. A member of the greatest generation, there was probably no one who made a larger mark in more areas of American life, shaping national policy as a scientist, nuclear pioneer, Cold War statesman, diplomat, and educational reformer for nearly fifty years. As a brilliant young chemist, he supervised the production of poison gas in WWI. As the Nazi threat loomed, he boldly led the interventionist cause in WWII and was tapped by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to be one of the scientific chiefs at the helm of the Manhattan Project, personally overseeing the massive secret effort to develop the atomic bomb and making the fateful recommendation to drop it on Hiroshima to bring the war to a quick and decisive end. He went on to become one of America's first cold warriors, led the bitter fight to reject the hydrogen bomb, and campaigned tirelessly for the international control of atomic weapons. He continued to exert his influence as President Eisenhower's high commissioner, and then ambassador, to Germany, helping to secure the country's future and strengthen Europe's defenses against Soviet aggression. He achieved national prominence in his twenty-year reign as president of Harvard--the very symbol of the intellectual and social elite--and yet was a champion of meritocracy and open admissions, helping to create the SAT and devoting his later life to improving public schools as the "engine of democracy." Even as he worked to safeguard the American way of life, he feared the nuclear force he helped harness was so dangerous it could lead to the extinction of mankind. In this intimate account of his extraordinary life, his granddaughter, ... bestselling author Jennet Conant, draws on hundreds of documents, diaries, and letters to reveal the agonizing decisions he was forced to make while serving his country in three wars--two hot, and one cold--and the burden of guilt he bore for his actions and for always putting duty before everything else. For all his brilliance, he never understood the depression that ravaged his family but struggled to keep his wife from succumbing, in the process alienating both his sons. With Man of the Hour, Jennet Conant paints a rich, nuanced portrait of a great American leader and visionary, the last of a vanishing breed."--Jacket.
Added to Catalog
October 23, 2017
Includes bibliographical references (pages [501]-561) and index.
Atomic pioneer
A Dorchester boy
A Harvard man
The chemists' war
Air castles
The specialist
The dark horse
Unexpected troubles
The acid test
A private citizen speaks out
Mission to London
War scientist
A colossal gamble
Uneasy alliances
One fell stroke
A changed world
Atomic chaos
First of the cold warriors
A rotten business
Man of the hour
Warrior educator.

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