A Year in Reading: Geoff Dyer

December 11, 2012 | 2 books mentioned 5

coverLast year I chose All God’s Children, a terrific book that deserves to be more widely known. This year I’m going for a book that could hardly be better known. Richard Rhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb scooped the big three prizes – the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award – and turns out to be every bit as impressive as its immense reputation. How did one man write such a book? The story converges on two dates, in two places – Hiroshima and Nagasaki – but to tell it Rhodes has to start waaay back and spread his reach to take in the discovery of the atom, the use of weapons against civilians, the flight of Jews from Nazi Germany, military strategy, engineering, political wrangling, and god knows what else. The cast of characters is huge, the command of narrative unerring, and the science is compelling even if it remains – to me – largely incomprehensible. A great, great book that reminded me of something I tend to forget. The thought of starting out on a 1000-page book of non-fiction is rather off-putting, especially if you are doing so with no particular aim in mind. But once such a book has you in its thrall it feels like it takes no more time or effort to get through than a three-hundred page novel.

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is the author of numerous novels and essay collections, including Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It and Otherwise Known as the Human Condition.  We interviewed him here in 2011, and wrote about his latest bookZona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room, a meditation on Andre Tarkovsky's film, Stalker.


  1. Rhodes’s tome was one of the most readable and thrilling books I’ve ever read. Thanks for reminding me that it is time to reread it.

  2. Bart you might want to read Ayn Rand and not take the blogospheres politio-scare mongering by their word. Think for yourself man you might learn something.

  3. Ayn Rand was a bimbo. And anyone who follows her rickety trains of thought is less than a bimbo, and right now, in this country especially, where have a surplus of Randian Sub-Bimbos. I can’t think of anything more conformist than reading Ayn Rand. Or less American.

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