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The terrifying first use of nuclear weapons over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was the most controversial act of warfare in history, dramatically ending the Second World War but ushering in the age of mass destruction. Yet it was also the climax of a story that extends beyond Japan and Washington- the culmination of decades of scientific achievement and centuries of colonial exploitation. Snake Dance is the account of a journey that turned into a quest to discover how humanity reaches this point. Patrick Marnham travels from the opulent nineteenth-century palaces of King Leopold II of Belgium, built with riches plundered from the Congo, to the lethally derelict nuclear reactor of modern-day Kinshasa. He follows the shipment of Congolese uranium to the deserts of New Mexico for the Manhattan Project s secret test detonation. Here he uncovers the legacies of Robert Oppenheimer and Aby Warburg, two mad geniuses who confronted the devastating power of twentieth-century science in very different ways. Both men travelled to New Mexico. Oppenheimer was honoured for buiding a bomb, the ancestor of weapons that have enslaved humanity. Warburg, condemned to obscurity
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Promotional Information

In this unique journey across continents and centuries, award-winning author Patrick Marnham explores the ruthless dictators, dangerous minds and prehistoric precedents behind the development of nuclear power.

Promotional Information

In this unique journey across continents and centuries, award-winning author Patrick Marnham explores the ruthless dictators, dangerous minds and prehistoric precedents behind the development of nuclear power.

About the Author

Patrick Marnham is a biographer and travel writer. He began his career as a reporter on Private Eye and has written for many newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the New York Times and Liberation. He has worked as a BBC script writer and a special correspondent in Africa, the Middle East and Central America. He has been literary editor of the Spectator and was the first Paris Correspondent of the Independent. He has written lives of Diego Rivera, Georges Simenon, Jean Moulin and Mary Wesley. His books have won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Marsh Biography Award. To accompany this book Marnham has written the prize-winning documentary film Snake Dance, directed by Manu Riche, the Belgian film maker. Patrick Marnham lives with his family in Oxfordshire.

Reviews

"A beautifully written book - informative and entertaining" -- Piers Paul Read * Spectator * "Fascinating... Snake Dance is nothing less than the biography of nuclear power, the most awesome force humanity has yet unleashed upon the planet" -- Peter Whittakar * New Internationalist * "[Patrick Marnham's] mastery of a vast trove of material makes him an erudite travel companion...perennially eager to poke about in radiation zones armed only with a wonky Geiger counter and a paper mask" -- Matthew Green * Literary Review * "The travel writing is first class... [A] thrillingly ominous account" * Spectator * "A superb book on the genesis and use of the atomic bomb" * Scotsman * "This is a humane and intelligent book, and one in which Marnham has clearly been deeply engaged" -- Melanie McGrath * Sunday Telegraph * "The great strength of Snake Dance is to create an atmosphere in which the advent of atomic energy is not just outrageous but tragic" * Observer * "Snake Dance is a hybrid of a film tie-in, travelogue, biography and history. It's a blend that gels through Marnham's unwavering verve as he follows the trail of a lethal cargo" -- Christian House * Independent * "Impeccably researched and written" -- Giles Milton * Mail on Sunday * "From colonial slavery to the blind potential of scientific exploration to enslave us in turn, he makes a circular journey: the nuclear snake eats its own tail" * The Times * "A twisting global journey in his devastating critique of nuclear policy...an honourable refusal to rationalise what boils down to an act of repeated mass murder" * Metro * "A penetrating historical x-ray of the first generation of people to live under the nuclear shadow" * Prospect * "A fascinating travelogue taking the reader from Joseph Conrad's Congo to the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster of 2011, via New Mexico... a learned and compelling history of man trying to control the elements. It's also a clarion call to arms to save ourselves and the planet" * Bookseller *

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