New Books on Manhattan Project History

New Books on Manhattan Project History

Cover of "Polonium in the Playhouse."

Two recently published books highlight some of the industrial sites of the Manhattan Project.

Polonium in the Playhouse: The Manhattan Project’s Secret Chemistry work in Dayton, OH by Linda Carrick Thomas focuses on the Dayton Project. At the behest of the Manhattan Project, the Monsanto Chemical Company separated and purified the radioactive element Polonium (Po-210) for the initiator for the atomic bombs. To lead the Project, General Leslie R. Groves selected Dr. Charles A. Thomas, Monsanto’s research director and the grandfather of author Linda Thomas. Monsanto’s subsequent polonium research, development, and production activities occurred at several sites in the city of Dayton, including in the recreational Runnymede Playhouse that had belonged to Thomas’s mother-in-law.

Polonium in the Playhouse sheds light on this important aspect of the Manhattan Project. The Dayton Project has remained relatively unknown because the records for the Dayton Project were among the most highly classified of the Manhattan Project. Thomas also explores the life of her grandfather, a highly accomplished scientist and industrial leader. The book includes many diagrams and historic diagrams to illustrate the story.

The Neutron’s Long Shadow: Legacies of Nuclear Explosives Production in the Manhattan Project is a beautifully composed book of high-resolution photographs captured by physicist and photographer Martin Miller. After retiring from the US Army Research Laboratory, Miller traveled to Hanford, WA and Oak Ridge, TN photographing the production facilities of the Manhattan Project. His photographs include key properties of the Manhattan Project including the B Reactor, the T Plant, the K-25 Plant before its demolition, the X-10 Graphite Reactor, and others. The book also features historic Manhattan Project photographs and discussion of the science and history of the project.