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J. Robert Oppenheimer Signed This Manhattan Project Report. Now It’s Up for Auction.

You may have already watched Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster on the atomic bomb, but now you can read a first-hand account of the Manhattan Project, too.

A historic document detailing the development of the atomic bomb is currently up for grabs at RR Auction. Privately printed in August 1945, Atomic Bombs: A General Account of the Development of Methods of Using Atomic Energy for Military Purposes Under the Auspices of the United States Government (we know, it’s a mouthful) was written by Henry D. Smyth just two weeks before the first detonation of the nuclear weapon in New Mexico.

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Smyth was an American physicist, diplomat, and bureaucrat who was instrumental in the early development of nuclear energy. He was a participant in the Manhattan Project, a member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), and U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Smyth’s approximately 200-page report delves into the technical and administrative evolution of the most dangerous weapon ever created. His preface is dated July 1, 1945, meaning it was penned only 15 days before the world-altering Trinity test occurred on July 16, 1945.

Henry D. Smyth Atomic Bombs Report
The report was written by Henry D. Smyth in 1945.

The report also includes a foreword by General Leslie Groves dated August 1945. The document was released to the press on August 12, 1945, just a few days after the U.S. bombed two Japanese cities. (The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place on August 6 and 9, respectively.) It was very likely the first publicly available report on the creation of the bomb, according to the auction house.

To top it off, the cover has been signed by 24 of the most prominent scientists and administrators involved in developing and deploying the atomic bomb, including J. Robert Oppenheimer and Nobel Prize winners Enrico Fermi, Ernest Lawrence, James Chadwick, Harold Urey, and Isidor I. Rabi. War Department secretary Nellie V. Sanderson reportedly asked the individuals to autograph the document on the occasions they met with Groves in Washington. Smyth also signed the title page.

Henry D. Smyth Atomic Bombs Report
The report will be sold with other letters and documents.

Smyth’s report is in “very good to fine” condition, according to the auction house. It will be sold with a collection of letters, documents, and other historic ephemera. The lot, which will go under the gavel on March 14, has already surpassed the $25,000 reserve. Bidding is sitting at $32,000 at the time of writing.

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