The biography of the German-born British scientist who handed the Soviets top-secret American plans for the plutonium bomb, a man torn between conventional loyalties and a sense of obligation to a greater good.
... enthralling and riveting ... covers a lot of familiar ground, but where it is particularly thorough and revealing is when it deals with Fuchs’s youth in Germany ... Greenspan’s pages on the interrogation and the decision about what to do with Fuchs are the most complete account available, and read like a detective novel. Her prodigious research is based on many important archives located in Britain, Germany and the United States, on Fuchs family papers and the papers of major scientists ... Greenspan tries to explain Fuchs’s activities by saying that Fuchs sought 'the betterment of mankind' — he gave atomic secrets to Moscow because 'his goal became to balance world power and to prevent nuclear blackmail.' To some, that might make him a hero. But her own material shows this was a post facto justification. The reason Fuchs spied was simply that he was a Communist and a true believer in Stalin and the Soviet Union.
The latest addition to the Klaus Fuchs bibliography, Atomic Spy, comes from Nancy Thorndike Greenspan and with it the obvious question: Do we need another book on Fuchs? Based on the first part of this book, the answer is yes. Ms. Greenspan gives us fresh and fascinating insights into Fuchs’s formative years ... One gets the niggling sense throughout Atomic Spy that the author is not entirely comfortable delving into Fuchs’s psychological hinterland or into the details of his espionage. But we need to consider both if we are to understand who he was and what he did ... Ms. Greenspan ends her book by asking whether Fuchs was 'evil or good, guilty or innocent, a traitor or a hero.' But the truth is more prosaic ... It is better to think of Fuchs as a socialist, a scientist and a spy. As with most spies throughout history, once he had started passing on secrets, he found it strangely hard to stop.
Thoroughly supported by a wide array of archival research, Greenspan’s detailed and authoritative yet equally interesting and readable study will appeal to readers of World War II and Cold War history, espionage, and nuclear history.