What We Are Reading Today: Atomic Spy

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Updated 20 June 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Atomic Spy

Author: Nancy Thorndike Greenspan

This book takes a little known, but important, figure from the history of the atomic bomb and the early Cold War and explores his complex, fascinating life.
The physicist Klaus Fuchs (1911-88) is well known as the atomic spy who gave details of everything he worked on at the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union.
In this enthralling and riveting account, Nancy Thorndike Greenspan, the author of a biography of the physicist Max Born, “has brought together new material that rounds out Fuchs’s life, from his college days in Weimar Germany to his move to Communist East Germany in June 1959 following his release from prison in Britain. He had served nine years of a 30-year sentence for espionage,” said Ronald Radosh in his review for The New York Times.
“There have been several previous books on Fuchs and also on the other spies working on the atomic bomb. Atomic Spy covers a lot of familiar ground, but where it is particularly thorough and revealing is when it deals with Fuchs’s youth in Germany,” said the review.


What We Are Reading Today: Down from Olympus

Updated 06 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Down from Olympus

Since the publication of Eliza May Butler’s Tyranny of Greece over Germany in 1935, the obsession of the German educated elite with the ancient Greeks has become an accepted, if severely underanalyzed, cliché. In Down from Olympus, Suzanne Marchand attempts to come to grips with German Graecophilia, not as a private passion but as an institutionally generated and preserved cultural trope. 

The book argues that 19th-century philhellenes inherited both an elitist, normative aesthetics and an ascetic, scholarly ethos from their Romantic predecessors; German “neohumanists” promised to reconcile these intellectual commitments, and by so doing, to revitalize education and the arts. 

Focusing on the history of classical archaeology, Marchand shows how the injunction to imitate Greek art was made the basis for new, state-funded cultural institutions. 

Tracing interactions between scholars and policymakers that made possible grand-scale cultural feats like the acquisition of the Pergamum Altar.