109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos

by Jennet Conant

Reviewed October 25, 2005

Book Cover109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos, tells the tale of the events at Los Alamos from a slightly different perspective. High atop the mesa, in a non-descript office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was the gateway to the secret laboratory. This is where scientists and technicians were racing to the develop the atomic bomb, and was guarded by Dorothy McKibben. Author Jennet Conant, whose grandfather was former Harvard president James B. Conant and chief administrator of the Manhattan Project, focuses the retelling of this story from Ms. McKibben's point of view.

Drawing upon an unpublished memoir by Dorothy McKibben, this book gives the reader insight into life beyond the laboratory and chalkboards. From this unassuming office, we learn what it took to live on "the Hill." This book is not about the deep science of the Manhattan Project, but rather about the "day to day" experiences.

Conant gives the reader an "insider's" view of the many of the principle characters of the Manhattan project. She paints an accurate portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer's intense and powerful charisma, by which Ms. McKibben was certainly influenced. Although some of these stories have been told before, 109 East Palace offers the reader an enjoyable account of that incredible saga. Available at amazon.com.