Synopses & Reviews
The untold story of an eccentric Wall Street tycoon and the circle of scientific geniuses he assembled before World War II to develop the science for radar and the atomic bomb. Together they changed the course of history.
Legendary financier, philanthropist, and society figure Alfred Lee Loomis gathered the most visionary scientific minds of the twentieth century — Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, and others — at his state-of-the-art laboratory in Tuxedo Park, New York, in the late 1930s. He established a top-secret defense laboratory at MIT and personally bankrolled pioneering research into new, high-powered radar detection systems that helped defeat the German Air Force and U-boats. With Ernest Lawrence, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, he pushed Franklin Delano Roosevelt to fund research in nuclear fission, which led to the development of the atomic bomb.
Jennet Conant, the granddaughter of James Bryant Conant, one of the leading scientific advisers of World War II, enjoyed unprecedented access to Loomis' papers, as well as to people intimately involved in his life and work. She pierces through Loomis' obsessive secrecy and illuminates his role in assuring the Allied victory.
"Understanding just how America wins wars is a pressing task these days, which makes the story of Alfred Loomis especially timely — and instructive....[His] remarkable story is being told now only thanks to Ms. Conant, a journalist who combines a graceful writing style with her own family connections to his secretive life. The Wall Street Journal
"Jennet Conant's Tuxedo Park illuminates an important but little-known chapter in American science, and does it with a deft, knowing touch that brings it to life." Timothy Ferris
"The story of how radar made its passage from the drawing board into the cockpits of Allied fighter planes is incredibly dramatic, and Jennet Conant tells it uncommonly well." The Washington Post Book World
"Remarkable...the story of a genuinely extraordinary man [told] uncommonly well." Jonathan Yardley
"A brilliant account of the all but vanished reputation of an amateur physicist who became a friend and peer of the greatest scientists of his time." Kurt Vonnegut
A legendary financier, philanthropist, and society figure, Alfred Loomis retired at the height of his Wall Street career in the late 1930s to devote himself to science. He gathered the most visionary minds — including Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, and other world-famous scientists — of the twentieth century at his state-of-the-art laboratory in Tuxedo Park, New York, where they worked on developing radar and laid the groundwork for the atomic bomb. As the war escalated, he convinced FDR to fund the advanced radar system that helped defeat the German Air Force and U-boats — and to build the atomic bomb.
Jennet Richards Conant, the granddaughter of James Bryant Conant, one of Loomis's scientists, enjoyed unprecedented access to Loomis's papers, as well as to people intimately involved in his life and work. In Tuxedo Park, she pierces through Loomis's obsessive secrecy and illuminates at last his seminal role in assuring the Allied victory in World War II.
In this account of an unexplored but crucial story of World War II, Conant traces one of the world's most extraordinary careers and scientific enterprises. Alfred Lee Loomis turned his Tuxedo Park laboratory into the meeting place for the most visionary minds of the 20th century.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -309) and index.
About the Author
Jennet Conant is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II. A former journalist, she has written for Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, Newsweek, and The New York Times. She lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.
Table of Contents
MAP OF TUXEDO PARK
1 THE PATRON
2 BRED IN THE BONE
3 THE POWER BROKER
4 PALACE OF SCIENCE
5 CASH ON THE BARREL
6 RESTLESS ENERGY
7 THE BIG MACHINE
8 ECHOES OF WAR
9 PRECIOUS CARGO
10 THE BLITZ
11 MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO
12 LAST OF THE GREAT AMATEURS
Alfred L. Loomis' Scientific Publications
Author's Note on Sources