By Paul Boyer
A examine at the influence of the nuclear bomb and the specter of nuclear struggle at the collective American awareness. This electronic variation was once derived from ACLS Humanities E-Book's (http://www.humanitiesebook.org) on-line model of a similar name.
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Tom Engelhardt, my editor at Pantheon, is keeping alive the great Maxwell Perkins tradition of editors who become genuinely engaged with the work their authors are struggling to bring to fruition. Tom richly deserves the praise one finds in the acknowledgment section of books he has been involved with; certainly this one is much improved for his ministrations. I also appreciate the cheerful assistance of Dan Cullen at Pantheon in the preparation of the manuscript. Special thanks, also, to the fine secretarial staff of the Unversity of Wisconsin History Department, and particularly to the departmental secretary, Jane Mesler, and those who so efficiently and cheerfully typed successive drafts of this manuscript and related materials: Carla Jabs, Kathleen Kisselburgh, and Anita Olson.
But first, the Event. The first to hear the news that distant Monday were those who happened to be near a radio at midday—housewives, children, the elderly, war workers enjoying a vacation day at home: This is Don Goddard with your news at noon. A little less than an hour ago, newsmen were called to the White House down in Washington, and there they were read a special announcement written by President Truman …. This was the story of a new bomb, so powerful that only the imagination of a trained scientist could dream of its existence.
Increasingly, the project I had mapped out threatened to slip out of control and flow off in all directions. 4 I responded to these unsettling reflections by making some fairly radical decisions about the limits of my study. First, I would build my work on the kinds of evidence historians are trained to use: the vast literature in which Americans directly and explicitly discussed the atomic bomb and its meaning, the wealth of cultural material—from the most rarified to the most ubiquitous—clearly influenced by the bomb.