Book ID: CBB001200110

Keeper of the Nuclear Conscience: The Life and Work of Joseph Rotblat (2012)


Brown, Andrew P. (Author)

Oxford University Press

Publication Date: 2012
Physical Details: xviii + 347 pp.; bibl.; index; ill.
Language: English

As Andrew Brown shows in Keeper of the Nuclear Conscience, Joseph Rotblat's life--from an impoverished childhood in war-torn Warsaw to an active old age that brought honors and public recognition, including the Nobel Peace Prize--is a compelling human story in itself. What gives it added significance is Rotblat's single-minded dedication to peaceful causes, particularly his pursuit of nuclear disarmament. Here is the first full biography of Joseph Rotblat based on complete access to his private papers. Brown describes how Rotblat overcame poverty and anti-Semitism to become a nuclear physicist, becoming a key member of the British team that worked on the atomic bomb in England and with the Manhattan Project in America. But Rotblat, appalled by the use of atomic bombs against the Japanese and deeply depressed by the brutal death of his wife in the Holocaust, soon became one of the prime architects of the anti-nuclear movement. The book describes his post-war activities under the shadow of Britain's nuclear program, his first political and media encounters, his exposure of the hazards of radioactive fallout, and his friendship with Bertrand Russell. Brown shows that Pugwash, the anti-nuclear group that Rotblat helped form, eventually established an invaluable back-channel link that penetrated the Iron Curtain. Indeed, it was a Pugwash office that facilitated the first meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan. Gorbachev's security advisers were heavily influenced by Pugwash ideas, especially the concept of non-offensive defense in Europe. Rotblat dedicated the last six decades of his life to peaceful causes and to efforts to uphold the ethical application of science. In this engaging biography, we discover a great man whose profound conscience shaped his life and work, and left an important legacy for future generations.

Reviewed By

Review Cetto, Ana María; Miramontes, Octavio (2013) Review of "Keeper of the Nuclear Conscience: The Life and Work of Joseph Rotblat". Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science (pp. 169-170). unapi

Review Underwood, Martin (2012) Review of "Keeper of the Nuclear Conscience: The Life and Work of Joseph Rotblat". British Journal for the History of Science (pp. 473-474). unapi

Review Underwood, Martin (2012) Review of "Keeper of the Nuclear Conscience: The Life and Work of Joseph Rotblat". Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science (p. 128). unapi

Essay Review Gormley, Melinda (2014) Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences for Science and World Affairs. Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science (pp. 199-201). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Bianco, Amy
Cassidy, David C.
Cowan, G. A.
Grattan-Guinness, Ivor
Hecht, David K.
Hull, McAllister H.
Physics in Perspective
Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan
Historical Records of Australian Science
History of Physics Newsletter
History of Science
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
University of New Mexico Press
Cambridge University Press
Harvard University Press
It Books
Jonathan Cape
Oxford University Press
Nuclear weapons; atomic weapons
Manhattan Project
Atomic, nuclear, and particle physics
Nobel Prizes
Science and ethics
Oppenheimer, J. Robert
Rotblat, Joseph
Russell, Bertrand Arthur William
Bethe, Hans Albrecht
Cowan, George A.
Curie, Marie Sklodowska
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
21st century
19th century
United States
Great Britain
New Mexico (U.S.)
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
Human Genome Project
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (U.S.)
University of California, Berkeley
United States. Scientific Laboratory, Los Alamos

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