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Lunch with author Richard Rhodes Y'59.

Come find out what it takes to be both a Pulitzer Prize winner and a National Book Award winner.

YALE Club of SF
speaking about the "Twilight of the Bombs"


Thursday, June 18
Olympic Club
524 Post Street (x Mason St.)
San Francisco CA
$30 for YCSF members/$40 for non-members


Click here to buy tickets!!!


Richard Rhodes was born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1937.  Following his mother's suicide on July 25, 1938, Rhodes, along with his older (by a year and a half) brother Stanley, was raised in and around Kansas City, Missouri, by his father, a railroad boilermaker with a third-grade education. When Rhodes was ten their father remarried a woman who starved, exploited, and abused the children. Stan, age 13, standing 5’ 4” and weighing an emaciated 98 pounds, saved both boys by walking into a police station and reporting to the authorities the conditions under which they lived. (For these details and others see Rhodes’ memoir A Hole in the World.) The boys were sent to the Andrew Drumm Institute, an institution for boys founded in 1928 in Independence, Missouri. The admission of the brothers was something of an anomaly as the institution was designed for orphaned or indigent boys and they fit neither category. (The Drumm Institute is still in operation today, and now accepts both boys and girls. Rhodes became a member of the board of trustees in 1991.)



Richard and Stanley lived at Drumm for the remainder of their adolescence. Both graduated from high school. Rhodes was admitted to Yale University and received the Victor WilsonScholarship, which awarded him full tuition, room, board, and other expenses for four years. Rhodes graduated with honors in 1959. He went on to publish 21 books and numerous articles for national magazines; his best-known work, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, was published in 1986 and earned Rhodes the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards. Many of his personal documents and research materials are part of the Kansas Collection at the Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.


Rhodes came to national prominence with his 1986 book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, a narrative of the history of the people and events during World War II from the discoveries leading to the science of nuclear fission in the 1930s, through the Manhattan Project and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Among its many honors, the 900-page book won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction (in 1988), a National Book Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award, and has sold many hundreds of thousands of copies in English alone, as well as having been translated into a dozen or so other languages. Praised by both historians and former Los Alamos weapon scientists alike, the book is considered a general authority on early nuclear weapons history, as well as the development of modern physics in general, during the first half of the twentieth century. Nobel Laureate Isidor Rabi, one of the prime participants in the dawn of the atomic age, said about the book, "An epic worthy of Milton. Nowhere else have I seen the whole story put down with such elegance and gusto and in such revealing detail and simple language which carries the reader through wonderful and profound scientific discoveries and their application."


Rhodes published a sequel to The Making of the Atomic Bomb in 1995, Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, which told the story of the atomic espionage during World War II (Klaus Fuchs, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, among others), the debates over whether the hydrogen bomb ought to be produced (see History of nuclear weapons), and the eventual creation of the bomb and its consequences for the arms race.


Most recently in 2007, Rhodes published Arsenals of Folly: The making of the nuclear arms race, a chronicle of the arms buildups during the Cold War, especially focusing on Mikhail Gorbachev and the Reagan administration. Rhodes is planning to publish a fourth and final book in his series of nuclear history, The Twilight of the Bombs, documenting among other topics the post Cold War nuclear history of the world, nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. 


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