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Resources > Readings

The literature on the Manhattan Project is extensive. The purpose of this web page is not to catalogue it, but only to suggest a very select few places to start. For more exhaustive lists of secondary works relating to the early history of nuclear energy, consult the bibliographies of the books listed below. 

Suggested Surveys of the Manhattan Project

Gosling, F. G.  The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb.  DOE/MA-0001; Washington: History Division, Department of Energy, January 1999 available in .pdf format.  

  • An overview history by the Chief Historian of the Department of Energy and the basis for most of the "Events" in this web site. The best short survey for the general reader. Revised with additional photographs in January 2010 as DOE/MA-0002 Revised and available in .pdf format.  

Hewlett, Richard G., and Oscar E. Anderson, Jr.  The New World, 1939-1946: Volume I, A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission.  Washington: U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1972.  

  • Comprehensive official history produced by the History Division, now the Office of History and Heritage Resources, of the Department of Energy. The standard reference.  
  • On the post-war period, see also its sequels, Hewlett and Francis Duncan, Atomic Shield, 1947-1952: Volume II, A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (Washington: U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1972), and Hewlett and Jack M. Holl, Atoms for Peace and War, 1953-1961: Eisenhower and the Atomic Energy Commission (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).  

Jones, Vincent C.  Manhattan: The Army and the Atomic Bomb, United States Army in World War II.  Washington: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1988.  

  • Another comprehensive official history, this time specifically from the Army's point of view. A volume of the Army's legendary "Green Series" of Second World War histories.  

Smyth, Henry DeWolf.  Atomic Energy for Military Purposes: The Official Report on the Development of the Atomic Bomb under the Auspices of the United States Government, 1940-1945.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1945 available in .pdf format.  

  • The "Smyth Report" is still one of the best surveys of the Manhattan Project as a whole. Though reprinted by Princeton University Press, the Smyth Report, like all other histories written on behalf of the government, is in the public domain.  

Manhattan District History

General Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Engineer District, commissioned a multi-volume history of the Manhattan Project called the Manhattan District History. First conceived in late 1944 and fully underway in the first half of 1945, the classified history was "intended to describe, in simple terms, easily understood by the average reader, just what the Manhattan District did, and how, when, and where." Prepared by individuals from across the Manhattan Project complex involved in the actual work of the project, the volumes produced can be repetitious, compartmentalized, and uneven in quality. At the same time, they assemble a vast amount of information in a systematic, readily available form. The Manhattan District History contains extensive annotations, statistical tables, charts, engineering drawings, maps, and photographs.

Many of the volumes have been declassified, and the remaining classified parts are in the process of being declassified with redactions, i.e., still classified terms, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs will be removed and the remaining unclassified parts made available to the public. The Department of Energy's Office of Classification and Office of History and Heritage Resources are collaborating to make available the entire multi-volume Manhattan District History in the Manhattan Project Resources section of the Office of Classification's OpenNet website.

Sources and notes for this page.

The text for this page is original to the Department of Energy's Office of History and Heritage Resources. Portions on the Manhattan District History were adapted from Manhattan District History, Book I - General, Vol. 1 - General, Section 1, pp. 1-12, and from Richard G. Hewlett and Oscar E. Anderson, Jr., The New World, 1939-1946: Volume I, A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (Washington: U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1972), 659-60.

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