Richard Rhodes

Richard Lee Rhodes (born July 4, 1937) is an American historian, journalist, and author of both fiction and non-fiction, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986), and most recently, Energy: A Human History (2018).

Rhodes has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation among others. Rhodes is an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. He also frequently gives lectures and talks on a broad range of subjects, including testimony to the U.S. Senate on nuclear energy.

Richard Rhodes
Rhodes in 2004
Rhodes in 2004
BornJuly 4, 1937 (age 81)
Kansas City, Kansas, United States
OccupationWriter, historian
Alma materYale University
GenreContemporary history
SpouseGinger Rhodes


Richard Rhodes was born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1937. Following his mother's suicide on July 25, 1938, Rhodes and his older brother Stanley were raised in the Kansas City, Missouri, area by his father, a railroad boilermaker with a third-grade education. When Rhodes was ten, their father remarried. The new wife starved, exploited, and abused the children. One day Stanley walked into a police station and reported their living conditions.

The brothers were removed from their father's custody and 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.[1] Rhodes wrote about his childhood in A Hole in the World.

Richard and Stanley lived at Drumm for the remainder of their adolescence. Both graduated from high school. Rhodes was admitted to Yale University with a full scholarship and graduated with honors in 1959, a member of Manuscript Society.

Rhodes has published 23 books and numerous articles for national magazines. His best-known work, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, was published in 1986 and earned him the Pulitzer Prize[2] 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 is the father of two children and is a grandfather. He and his wife, Ginger Rhodes, have made their home in California.

Nuclear history

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,[2] the National Book Award for Nonfiction,[3] and a National Book Critics Circle Award, and has sold 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 20th century. According to a citation on the first page of the book, 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." In 2012 the book was reissued as a 25th anniversary edition with a new foreword by Rhodes.

In 1992, Rhodes followed it up by compiling, editing, and writing the introduction to an annotated version of The Los Alamos Primer, by Manhattan Project scientist Robert Serber. The Primer was a set of lectures given to new arrivals at the secret Los Alamos laboratory during wartime in order to get them up to speed about the prominent questions needing to be solved in bomb design, and had been largely declassified in 1965, but was not widely available.

In 1993, Rhodes published Nuclear Renewal: Common Sense about Energy detailing the history of the nuclear power industry in the United States, and future promises of nuclear power.

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.

In 1997 Rhodes appeared in the UK Channel 4 TV series Equinox episode "A Very British Bomb" about the UK's efforts after the war to develop its own nuclear weapons after collaboration with the US had been halted by the 1946 MacMahon Act.

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.

The Twilight of the Bombs, the fourth and final volume in his series on nuclear history, was published in 2010. The book documents, among other topics, the post-Cold War nuclear history of the world, nuclear proliferation, and nuclear terrorism.

Other prominent works

John James Audubon, published in 2004, is a biography of the French-born American artist, John James Audubon (1785–1851). Audubon is known for his life-sized watercolor illustrations of birds and wildlife, including Birds of America, a multi-volume work published through subscriptions in the mid-19th century, first in England and then in the United States. Rhodes also edited a collection of Audubon's letters and writings published by Everyman's Library (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)—The Audubon Reader.

Rhodes' 1997 book Deadly Feasts is a work of verity concerning transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), prions, and the career of Daniel Carleton Gajdusek. It reviews the history of TSE epidemics, beginning with the infection of large numbers of the Fore people of the New Guinea Eastern Highlands during a period when they consumed their dead in mortuary feasts, and explores the link between new variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (nvCJD) in humans and the consumption of beef contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly referred to as mad cow disease.

Hedy's Folly was published in November 2011 and deals with the life and work of the Hollywood actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr.

Rhodes book Hell and Good Company, published in 2015, is about the Spanish Civil War and the changes that came from it.

Though less well known as a writer of fiction, Rhodes is also the author of four novels. Three of the four are currently out of print, but The Ungodly: A Novel of the Donner Party, his first, was reissued in a new edition in 2007 by Stanford University Press.

Science-Based Medicine writer Steven Novella says that Rhodes's book from 2018 Energy: A Human History reviews the history of our use of energy from around 1500 to the present. Steven writes "it is well-researched and contains a wealth of historical information". "A few themes stuck out for me in the book. One was how similar the social, political, and market forces are today and in the past when it comes to energy" According to Novella "the book is timely because the history of our energy decisions in the past is great background for our energy decisions today from his 2018 review.'[4]


  • — (1970). The Inland Ground: An Evocation of the American Middle West. illus. Bill Greer. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0-333-12851-6.
  • — (1973). The Ungodly: A Novel of the Donner Party. New York: Charterhouse. ISBN 9780333128398. OCLC 919530767.
  • — (1974). The Ozarks. New York: Time-Life. ISBN 0-8094-1196-2.
  • — (1978). Holy Secrets. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-02565-3.
  • — (1979). Looking for America: A Writer's Odyssey. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-14473-3.
  • — (1980). The Last Safari. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-14243-9.
  • — (1981). Sons of Earth. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan. ISBN 0-698-11055-2.
  • — (1986). The Making of the Atomic Bomb. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-44133-7.
  • — (1989). Farm: A Year in the Life of an American Farmer. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-63647-2.
  • — (1990). A Hole in the World: An American Boyhood. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-69066-3.
  • — (1991). The Inland Ground: An Evocation of the American Middle West. Revised Edition. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0499-5.
  • — (1992). Making Love: An Erotic Odyssey. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-78227-4.
  • — (1992). The Los Alamos Primer: The First Lectures on How to Build an Atomic Bomb. ed. with introd. Richard Rhodes. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07576-5.
  • — (1993). Nuclear Renewal: Common Sense about Energy. New York: Whittle Books. ISBN 0-670-85207-4.
  • — (1995). Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80400-X.
  • — (1995). How to Write: Advice and Reflections. New York: W. Morrow. ISBN 0-688-14095-5.
  • — (1997). Farm: A Year in the Life of an American Farmer. Lincoln, NE: Bison Books (University of Nebraska Press). ISBN 0-8032-8965-0.
  • — (1997). Deadly Feasts: Tracking the Secrets of a Terrifying New Plague. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-82360-8.
  • — (1999). Why They Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40249-7.
  • — (1999). Visions of Technology: A Century of Vital Debate about Machines, Systems, and the Human World. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-83903-2.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • — (2000). A Hole in the World: An American Boyhood. Tenth Anniversary Edition with a new preface and epilogue. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1038-3.
  • —; Esther Samra (1995). Picturing the Bomb: Photographs from the Secret World of the Manhattan Project. introd. Richard Rhodes. New York: H.N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3735-2.
  • —; Richard Rhodes (1996). Trying to Get Some Dignity: Stories of Triumph over Childhood Abuse. New York: W. Morrow. ISBN 0-688-14096-3.
  • — (2002). Masters of Death: The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40900-9.
  • — (2004). John James Audubon: The Making of an American. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41412-6.
  • — (2006). Richard Rhodes (ed.). The Audubon Reader. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 1-4000-4369-7.
  • — (2007). The Ungodly: A Novel of the Donner Party. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-5641-4.
  • — (2007). Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41413-4.
  • — (2010). The Twilight of the Bombs: Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World Without Nuclear Weapons. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-307-26754-7.
  • — (2011). Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-53438-8.
  • — (2015). Hell and Good Company: The Spanish Civil War and the World it Made. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1451696219.
  • — (2018). Energy: A Human History. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1501105357.


  1. ^ "Board members". The Andrew Drumm Institute. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
  2. ^ a b "General Nonfiction". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-25.
  3. ^ "National Book Awards – 1987". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-25.
  4. ^ Steve, Novella. "Review -energy-a-human-history". Neurologica. Science Based Medicine 6/25/2018.

External links

1988 Pulitzer Prize

The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1988.

Austin Community College District

The Austin Community College District (ACC) is a community college system serving the Austin, Texas metropolitan area and surrounding Central Texas communities. The college maintains numerous campuses, centers, and distance learning options to serve about 100,000 students in academic, continuing education and adult education programs.

ACC offers associate degree and career/technical certificate programs in about one hundred areas of study. Most courses taken within the district are meant to apply for associate degrees, which help students qualify for jobs or which can be transferred to four-year institutions. ACC is the sixth largest community college system in the United States, and the fourth largest college in Texas.

Barnesville, North Carolina

Barnesville is an unincorporated community in Robeson County, North Carolina, United States. The community is 7.2 miles (11.6 km) south-southeast of Fairmont. Barnesville had a post office from May 15, 1879, to September 11, 2010; it still has its own ZIP code, 28319.The community was founded in 1888 and named after Richard Rhodes Barnes who provided land for a railway through the community.

Canadian Art (magazine)

Canadian Art is a quarterly art magazine published in Toronto and focusing on Canadian contemporary art. The magazine publishes profiles of artists, art news, interviews, editorials, and reviews of modern art exhibitions. Established in 1943 it was known as artscanada between 1968 and 1983.

Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner

The Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner is the police and crime commissioner, an elected official tasked with setting out the way crime is tackled by Cumbria Police in the English County of Cumbria. The post was created in November 2012, following an election held on 15 November 2012, and replaced the Cumbria Police Authority. Richard Rhodes was the first Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.The current incumbent is Peter McCall, who represents the Conservative Party.


Détente (French pronunciation: ​[detɑ̃t], meaning "relaxation") is the easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation, through verbal communication. The term in diplomacy originates around 1912 when France and Germany tried, without success, to reduce tensions.Most often the term is used for a phase of the Cold War. It was the policy of relaxing tensions between Moscow and the West, as promoted by Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger and Leonid Brezhnev, 1969 – 1974. With the United States showing weakness at the top that forced Richard Nixon out of office, Brezhnev used the opportunity to expand Soviet influence. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 decisively ended any talk of détente.

Haileybury and Imperial Service College

Haileybury is an independent school near Hertford in England. Originally a major boys' public school, it is now co-educational, enrolling pupils at 11+, 13+ and 16+ stages of education. Over 780 pupils attend Haileybury, of whom more than 500 board.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr (), born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler; November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000) was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor.After a brief early film career in Czechoslovakia, including the controversial Ecstasy (1933), she fled from her husband, a wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer, and secretly moved to Paris. Traveling to London, she met Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio head Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood. She became a film star with her performance in Algiers (1938). Her MGM films include Lady of the Tropics (1939), Boom Town (1940), H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), and White Cargo (1942). Her greatest success was as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949). She also acted on television before the release of her final film, The Female Animal (1958). She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.At the beginning of World War II, she and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes that used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. Although the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, the principles of their work are incorporated into Bluetooth technology and are similar to methods used in legacy versions Wi-Fi. This work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Herbert L. Anderson

Herbert Lawrence Anderson (May 24, 1914 – July 16, 1988) was an American nuclear physicist who was Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago.

He contributed to the Manhattan Project. He was also a member of the team which made the first demonstration of nuclear fission in the United States, in the basement of Pupin Hall at Columbia University. He participated in the first atomic bomb test, codenamed Trinity. After the close of World War II, he was a professor of physics at the University of Chicago until his retirement in 1982. There, he helped Fermi establish the Enrico Fermi Institute and was its director from 1958 to 1962. The latter part of his career was as a senior fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was a recipient of the Enrico Fermi Award.

Los Alamos Primer

The Los Alamos Primer was a printed version of the first five lectures on the principles of nuclear weapons given to new arrivals at the top-secret Los Alamos laboratory during the Manhattan Project. They were originally given by the physicist Robert Serber after being delivered in person on April 5–14, 1943, based on conclusions reached at a conference held in July and September 1942 at the University of California, Berkeley by Robert Oppenheimer. The notes from the lecture which became the Primer were written by Edward Condon.

The first paragraph states the intention of the Los Alamos laboratory during World War II:

The object of the project is to produce a practical military weapon in the form of a bomb in which the energy is released by a fast neutron chain reaction in one or more of the materials known to show nuclear fission.The Primer contained the basic physical principles of nuclear fission, as they were known at the time, and their implications for nuclear weapon design. It suggested a number of possible ways to assemble a critical mass of uranium-235 or plutonium, the most simple being the shooting of a "cylindrical plug" into a sphere of "active material" with a "tamper"—dense material which would reflect neutrons inward and keep the reacting mass together to increase its efficiency (this model, the Primer said, "avoids fancy shapes"). They also explored designs involving spheroids, a primitive form of "implosion" (suggested by Richard C. Tolman), and explored the speculative possibility of "autocatalytic methods" which would increase the efficiency of the bomb as it exploded.

The Primer became designated as the first official Los Alamos technical report (LA-1), and though its information about the physics of fission and weapon design was soon rendered obsolete, it is still considered a fundamental historical document in the history of nuclear weapons. Its contents would be of little use today to someone attempting to build a nuclear weapon, a fact acknowledged by its complete declassification in 1965. It used to be available for download from Los Alamos's website, but after the September 11 attacks, Los Alamos restricted access to all of their technical reports. It can still be found on internet mirrors, though, as well as on Wikipedia.

In 1992, an edited version of the Primer with many annotations and explanations by Serber was published with an introduction by Richard Rhodes.

Manuscript Society

Manuscript Society is a senior society at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Toward the end of each academic year 16 rising seniors are inducted into the society, which meets twice weekly for dinner and discussion. Manuscript is reputedly the "Arts and letters" society at Yale.

Oskar Dirlewanger

Oskar Dirlewanger (26 September 1895 – 7 June 1945) was a German military officer (SS-Oberführer) and war criminal who served as the founder and commander of the Nazi SS penal unit "Dirlewanger" during World War II. His name is closely linked to some of the worst crimes of the war. He also fought in World War I, the post-World War I conflicts, and the Spanish Civil War. He died after World War II while in Allied custody, apparently beaten to death by his guards, though lack of evidence has led to theories of him escaping.

Dirlewanger is invariably described as an extremely cruel person by historians and researchers, including as "a psychopathic killer and child molester" by Steven Zaloga, "violently sadistic" by Richard Rhodes, "an expert in extermination and a devotee of sadism and necrophilia" by J. Bowyer Bell, and "a sadist and necrophiliac" by Bryan Mark Rigg. According to Timothy Snyder, "in all the theaters of the Second World War, few could compete in cruelty with Dirlewanger".

Richard Rhodes (police commissioner)

Richard Rhodes (born 20 April 1942) is a British politician and former teacher. From 2012 to 2016, he was the Conservative Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.

Richard Rhodes (sculptor)

Richard Rhodes (born 1961) is a Seattle, Washington-based sculptor, stonemason, entrepreneur, and scholar of stonework worldwide.

Stone Wave

Stone Wave occupies the central courtyard of Tacoma, Washington's Tacoma Art Museum and is a major public work by sculptor Richard Rhodes of Seattle, Washington. Completed in May, 2003, the wave is constructed using 650 unique pieces of antique Chinese granite laid on a substrate of closed-cell foam and mortar. At once echoing the surging of waves and the volcanic core of Mount Rainier, the sculpture presents a zone of visual serenity among the museum's galleries.

Tacoma Art Museum

The Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) is a museum in Tacoma, Washington emphasizing art and artists from the Northwest and broader western region. Founded in the 1935, the museum has strong roots in the community and anchors Tacoma’s downtown university and museum district.

The Bomb (film)

The Bomb is a 2015 American documentary film about the history of nuclear weapons, from theoretical scientific considerations at the very beginning, to their first use on August 6, 1945, to their global political implications in the present day. The two-hour PBS film was written and directed by Rushmore DeNooyer, who noted the project took a year and a half to complete, since much of the film footage and images was only recently declassified by the United States Department of Defense. According to DeNooyer, “It wouldn’t take very many bombs to really change life on Earth, ... The idea that there are thousands of them sitting around is pretty scary. I don’t think people today realize that. They don’t think about it. I don’t think they are scared. But in a way, they should be.” Mark Dawidziak, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, summarized the film as follows: "The Bomb moves swiftly to cover Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cold War, the arms race, the Red Scare, the witch hunt, the Cuban Missile Crisis, test-ban treaties, the "Star Wars" initiative, the anti-nuke movement, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of new nuclear threats." According to historian Richard Rhodes, “The invention [of 'The Bomb'] was a millennial change in human history: for the first time, we were now capable of our own destruction, as a species.”

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a contemporary history book written by the American journalist and historian Richard Rhodes, first published by Simon & Schuster in 1987. It won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, the National Book Award for Nonfiction, and a National Book Critics Circle Award. The narrative covers people and events from early 20th century discoveries leading to the science of nuclear fission, through the Manhattan Project and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Praised both by historians and former Los Alamos weapon scientists, 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 20th century. Nobel Laureate I. I. Rabi, one of the prime participants in the dawn of the atomic age, called it "an epic worthy of Milton. No where 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."

William Barnes Rhodes

William Barnes Rhodes (1772–1826) was an English author, best known for his burlesque opera, Bombastes Furioso.

Rhodes was born in Leeds on Christmas Day 1772, the second son of Richard Rhodes and his wife, Mercy. He worked as a writer in an attorney's office, before gaining a position as a clerk in the Bank of England around 1799. He was promoted to chief teller in 1823, and held that post until his death.

On 24 March 1825, Rhodes married Emma Millington. On 1 November 1826 he died at his home near Bedford Square, London, being survived by his wife, who gave birth to a daughter after his death.

Rhodes is best known as the author of a burlesque opera, "Bombastes Furioso", which became a popular success. It was produced anonymously at the Haymarket Theatre on 7 August 1810, with John Liston in the title role and Charles Mathews as the King of Utopia and was first printed in 1813, in Dublin, but was not published under Rhodes's name until 1822. He also published, in 1801, a translation into English verse of the Satires of Juvenal.

Rhodes was also a collector of dramatic literature and made large purchases when the Duke of Roxburghe's library was auctioned in June 1812. Rhodes's own library was sold by Sotheby's in 1825.

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