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The Manhattan Project’s Long Shadow

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0183
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$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member
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Operation Trinity, the first detonation of a nuclear weapon as part of the Manhattan Project July, 1945

The creation of the first atomic bomb in 1945 fundamentally changed the nature of American life and international relations. Since that fateful August day when Hiroshima was bombed, every U.S. president has made reference to nuclear weapons in public speeches, with John F. Kennedy famously telling the United Nations in 1961, “Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. ...The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”

But Kennedy’s view on the elimination of nuclear weapons contrasts with Franklin Roosevelt’s concern in 1941. With the Second World War raging, the U.S. feared that Hitler’s Germany was working on developing an atomic weapon. To head off such a devastating possibility, Roosevelt approved the Manhattan Project, the top-secret program to build the most powerful weapon the world has ever known. While many celebrated the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as having helped to bring the Second World War to a close, the ongoing reality of nuclear weapons has proven more complicated.

Award-winning historian Allen Pietrobon, an assistant professor of global affairs at Trinity Washington University, explores the history of the Manhattan Project and how the existence of nuclear weapons forever changed the world. They have shaped the way Americans lived, influenced postwar American culture, and have been a dangerous flashpoint in international relations. In addition to the development of the atomic bomb and the long shadow it cast, Pietrobon explores some of the fascinating and little-known ramifications of how the success of the Manhattan Project continues to affect us 77 years after the first (and last) time an atomic bomb has been used in combat.

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