Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

(Reading Challenge:  Great Graphic Novels)

trinityThis was a fascinating book. And, since there is another big winner about the atomic bomb this year it looks like I’ll be learning a lot about this important event.

It covers the development of the bomb from the start, identifying the key scientific thinkers across the world who were figuring out atoms and fission. Then it comes to Robert Oppenheimer and the U.S.’s quest to built the first bomb.  This part was really interesting to me (the part explaining actual fission, not so much, despite the author and illustrator’s best attempts to simplify and explain clearly-I simply don’t get it!). Did you know that thousands of people in the U.S. were employed in this project-yet they didn’t know what they were working on? That it was so compartmentalized that no one could put the pieces together to figure out that’s what the project was? And this top secret method was so successful the CIA emulated in the future? That whole towns and factories were built just to produce parts that would be used in making the bomb? I didn’t know any of that and it was fascinating. Some other fascinating and horrible things I learned? That so much nuclear testing has gone on around the world that we all have a little radioactivity inside us. Can’t escape it. Also? That although we think of the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the most terrible things to happen in terms of warfare and death tolls, the firebombing campaign of Japan actually had a higher loss of life. It was a more drawn out attack, but worse.

I thought of the book as having two parts-the creation of the bomb and then the use of it. The latter section shows Truman considering the decision to use the weapon, the horror of the bomb, and Oppenheimer and the world’s realization that nothing would ever be the same politically because of this dreadful threat of nuclear war.

In clear words and pictures this very complicated and big event and subsequent topic is brought to life to the reader.  I really liked this and wish it had been around when I was in high school because I think it would have been very useful to read in history class!


3 thoughts on “Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

  1. I’ve read very few graphic novels and none that are non-fiction, so I’m not really sure what to expect from a book like this. Was an awful lot of text necessary to explain what was going on? And did you feel like being a graphic novel made the book better?

    • For me it being a graphic novel did make a difference. I thought the use of images really conveyed a lot of big moments-explosion, effects, looks of horror and grief on people’s faces. It really brought out the emotional element of the story. Although it’s non-fiction it’s the kind that is written more like a narrative story (as opposed to a book where you might just look up a fact.) There was quite a bit of text, which made the pages with images without text even more powerful-they really stood out. Give it a try-it’s not very long and it really explains well what was going on.

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