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The bastard brigade : the true story of the renegade scientists and spies who sabotaged the Nazi atomic bomb
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From New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean comes the gripping, untold story of a renegade group of scientists and spies determined to keep Adolf Hitler from obtaining the ultimate prize: a nuclear bomb

Scientists have always kept secrets. But rarely have the secrets been as vital as they were during World War II. In the middle of building an atomic bomb, the leaders of the Manhattan Project were alarmed to learn that Nazi Germany was far outpacing the Allies in nuclear weapons research. Hitler, with just a few pounds of uranium, would have the capability to reverse the entire D-Day operation and conquer Europe. So they assembled a rough and motley crew of geniuses - dubbed the Alsos Mission - and sent them careening into Axis territory to spy on, sabotage, and even assassinate members of Nazi Germany's feared Uranium Club.
The details of the mission rival the finest spy thriller, but what makes this story sing is the incredible cast of characters-both heroes and rogues alike-including:
Moe Berg the major league catcher who abandoned the game for a career as a multilingual international spy; the strangest fellow to ever play professional baseball.
Werner Heisenberg the Nobel Prize-winning physicist credited as the discoverer of quantum mechanics; a key contributor to the Nazi's atomic bomb project and the primary target of the Alsos mission.
Colonel Boris Pash a high school science teacher and veteran of the Russian Revolution who fled the Sovit Union with a deep disdain for Communists and who later led the Alsos mission.
Joe Kennedy Jr. the charismatic, thrill-seeking older brother of JFK whose need for adventure led him to volunteer for the most dangerous missions the Navy had to offer.
Samuel Goudsmit a washed-up physics prodigy who spent his life huntinh Nazi scientist-and his parents, who had been swept into a concentration camp-across the globe.
Ir è ne and Frederic Joliot-Curie a physics Nobel-Prize winning power couple who used their unassuming status as scientists to become active members of the resistance.
Thrust into the dark world of international espionage, these scientists and soldiers played a vital and largely untold role in turning back one of the darkest tides in human history.
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Booklist Review
Principles governing nuclear fission were discovered before the outbreak of war in 1939, but the belligerents quickly started plans to turn those principles into weapons of incredible power. The possibility of Hitler gaining possession of the atom's secrets was terrifying for the Allies. For the first time in history, an entire military mission was devoted to derailing an enemy's scientific-research efforts. Kean's (Caesar's Last Breath, 2017) comprehensive and sometimes humorous tale of the efforts to stop the Nazi atomic bomb is an exciting action adventure that enticingly combines science and history. Featuring concise illustrations of atomic physics, each worth a thousand words, and a cast of real-life characters that Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy, and the Marx brothers would have strained to invent, The Bastard Brigade is as entertaining as it is fascinating. Kean's colloquial expressions and metaphors provide levity to the gritty history of a world at war, with the survival of freedom, and possibly humanity, hanging in the balance. He never lets the reader forget what was at stake, often stating that failure could have resulted in the ultimate mushroom cloud. Kean's page-turner about a still too-little-understood chapter in history deserves a prominent place in WWII collections.--James Pekoll Copyright 2019 Booklist
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Table of Contents
Author's Notep. xi
Prologue: Summer of '44p. 3
Part IPrewar, to 1939
Chapter 1Professor Bergp. 13
Chapter 2Near Misses and Big Hitsp. 23
Chapter 3Fast and Slowp. 38
Chapter 4Crimea to Hollywoodp. 41
Chapter 5Divisionp. 48
Chapter 6Spinning out of Controlp. 61
Chapter 7Banzai Bergp. 75
Chapter 8On the Brinkp. 82
Part II1940-1941
Chapter 9The Uranium Clubp. 91
Chapter 10Heavy Waterp. 105
Chapter 11Phoney to Realp. 111
Chapter 12Mad Jackp. 113
Chapter 13Compromisep. 120
Chapter 14Harvard Highs and Lowsp. 123
Chapter 15Maud Ray Kentp. 126
Part III1942
Chapter 16Resistancep. 131
Chapter 17The Fire Heard 'Round the Worldp. 136
Chapter 18Off to Warp. 141
Chapter 19Brazil and Beyondp. 147
Chapter 20Baja Daysp. 157
Chapter 21V-1, V-2, V-3p. 162
Chapter 22Lettersp. 164
Chapter 23Operation Freshmanp. 169
Chapter 24The Italian Navigatorp. 180
Part IV1943
Chapter 25Secret Messagesp. 187
Chapter 26Operation Gunnersidep. 191
Chapter 27Consolations of Philosophyp. 207
Chapter 28"The Fun Will Start"p. 214
Chapter 29Seeing Redp. 220
Chapter 30Beautiful Peenemündep. 226
Chapter 31PT-109p. 234
Chapter 32Blabbermouthp. 238
Chapter 33Heavy Water under Firep. 243
Chapter 34Alsosp. 250
Part V1944
Chapter 35Busy Lizziep. 257
Chapter 36Groves's Second Assaultp. 261
Chapter 37The Ferryp. 264
Chapter 38Sharksp. 271
Chapter 39Biscay Bluesp. 276
Chapter 40The Fat Captainp. 281
Chapter 41Augers & Peppermintp. 284
Chapter 42Remusp. 289
Chapter 43Aphrodite vs. Anvilp. 296
Chapter 44Valkyriep. 304
Chapter 45Escape and Resistancep. 308
Chapter 46Lightning-Ap. 312
Chapter 47Zootsuit Blackp. 324
Chapter 48Catching Pretty Wellp. 332
Chapter 49"I'll Be Seeing You"p. 335
Chapter 50The Quisling Zoop. 339
Chapter 51Healthy Rays, Healthy Teeth, Healthy Paranoiap. 345
Chapter 52The Deadliest Hombrep. 351
Chapter 53Nazi Up. 359
Chapter 54Uncertainty, Principlesp. 366
Part VI1945
Chapter 55Operation Bigp. 377
Chapter 56The Lonely Organistp. 386
Chapter 57Triumph and Lossp. 391
Chapter 58Goimanyp. 398
Chapter 59The Bomb Dropsp. 404
Epilogues: 1946 and Beyondp. 412
A Thank-You and a Bonusp. 421
Acknowledgmentsp. 423
Major Charactersp. 425
Minor Charactersp. 427
Sourcesp. 429
Indexp. 435
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