Children of Los Alamos; An Oral History of the Town Where the Atomic Age Began

New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995. First paperback printing [stated]. Trade paperback. xiv, 204, [6] pages. Illustrations. Epilogue. Methodology. Appendix: Biographical Notes on Interviews. Notes and References. Bibliography. Index. Cover has some wear and soiling. Some edge soiling. RARE SIGNED COPY. Inscribed on the half-title page. Inscription reads To Nancy, Enjoy! Katrina. This work is divided into a section on Keeping the Secret and on After the War and Looking Back. The series editor notes that "Oral history may well be the twentieth century's substitute for the written memoir. In exchange for the immediacy of diaries or correspondence, the retrospective interview offers a dialogue between the participant and the informed interviewer. Having prepared sufficient preliminary research, interviewers can direct the discussion into areas long since "forgotten" or no longer considered of consequence. The quality of the interview, its candidness and depth, generally will depend as much on the interviewer as the interviewee, and the confidence and rapport between the two adds a special dimension to the spoken memoir. The author noted that "While the children of Los Alamos did not think of themselves as unique when they were children, as adults they realize that many circumstances they accepted were peculiar...They lived in a community that was not only secret but intense (and often tense), carefully selected, and diverse in geographic and cultural background." The recollections of those who were children in Los Alamos from 1943 to 1952 reveal common threads: security, multi-culturalism, and a sense of connection to the land. Katrina R. Mason has interviewed a wide range of people who spent all or parts of their childhoods in Los Alamos - from its muddy beginnings in 1943, when residents officially lived at P.O. Box 1663, to the late 1950s, after the laboratory had come under the auspices of the Atomic Energy Commission - to create this engaging and provocative portrait of a place that has come to epitomize both the scientific advances and the moral ambiguities of this century. Collectively the wartime children of Los Alamos - the children of scientists, of machinists and technicians from around the country, of construction workers from Texas and Oklahoma, and of Spanish Americans - constituted a microcosm of the United States. Mason identifies three elements common to their childhood recollections: a magnetic attraction to the land; a sense of security, that children always felt safe there; and multiculturalism. Almost all the children interviewed attribute their interest in other cultures and ability to get along with all kinds of people to their experience at Los Alamos. Some note that in important ways Los Alamos was an unusually stratified community, but most agree that scholastic achievement, not family background, determined one's place in the children's social strata. Mason gives readers a glimpse of what it was like to be the child of such luminous fathers as J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, Edward Teller, Hans Bethe, and Kenneth Bainbridge at such an intense moment in American history. Her interviews also show what it was like to live in such a community when you were the child of a Spanish-American laborer or a machinist who'd brought his family over from a neighboring state. She explores how the children have dealt with their often conflicting feelings about their parents' involvement in the creation of such a destructive weapon. Mason's volume illuminates these personal and often very emotional dimensions of a fascinating historical era, and as such should prove invaluable. Condition: Good.

Keywords: Los Alamos, Atomic Bomb, Closed City, Secrecy, Manhattan Project, Espionage, P. O. Box 1663, Soldiers, Civilians, H-bomb, Congressional Hearing, Civil Rights, Coming of Age, Vietnam War, Environment

ISBN: 0805791396

[Book #84295]

Price: $175.00