I just finished listening to it on CD-audio book in my car last night. I think John Cornwell has written a very fine book, until the very end. I have the hardcopy of the book around here somewhere so I’ll check it for the actual quotes later, but he says some really outrageous things about Edward Teller and makes some ludicrous comparisons to Andrei Sakharov, a true hero. Basically Cornwell plays two games of moral equivalence. First he says that Teller’s enthusiasm for building as big a hydrogen bomb as the American military wanted was significantly the same thing as using slave labor to build missiles to bomb Britain. Second, he suggests that Sakharov’s resistance to the Soviet Union’s ambitions makes Teller look very bad because Teller supported Star Wars. You can dislike Teller if you want, but this struck me as unfair across a wide spectrum of perspectives.
All of this came out of blue for me considering that neither Teller nor Sakharov were “Hitler’s Scientists.” What also came out of the blue is the fact that Cornwell’s a very old acquaintance/friend of my parents. I can only assume Cornwell never made these sorts of arguments around my dad. Because if he did there would be a whole lot-o-cussin’ going on.