PositiveThe Washington Post... contains no surprises and will quell no controversies. But it is a compelling and highly readable account of one of the most fateful decisions in American history ... Wallace and Weiss humanize events too often reduced to technical or diplomatic arcana by telling their story through the lives of individuals ... Presented as a countdown to the final event, the book moves along at a rapid clip, with colorful anecdotes enlivening the narrative ... The authors’ breakneck prose sometimes breezes past moments in history deserving of a more thorough treatment ... At the end, Wallace and Weiss offer no argument as to the ultimate morality or immortality of the atomic bomb decision. But it is hard to disagree with their conclusion that \'it is unrealistic to think Harry Truman would make any other choice\' ... Perhaps unintentionally, Countdown also underscores just how much this country has changed in the past 75 years.
MixedThe Washington Post... a fast-paced and rollicking ride, even though it goes off the rails factually in a few places ... While the book’s errors and exaggerations do not fatally undermine it, they could easily have been avoided with some fact-checking by the author or his publisher ... Since there are no footnotes or endnotes, it is impossible for the interested reader to know where Kean gets his information. Likewise, the author makes no attribution to other books that he obviously relied upon in his research.
Gino Segre and Bettina Hoerlin
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewPerhaps understandably, the authors are most assured and informative when writing about Fermi’s contributions to science ... But except for their account of the young Fermi as one of the precocious scientists known as the 'Boys of Via Panisperna' — the location of the University of Rome’s physics department — there is little in the book that is new, and that has not already been covered in other works.