The New Men SNO 3


In 1939 Lewis and his brother Martin, nine years younger, argue over whether Martin's anticipated marriage to Irene is a good career move. In the course of the argument Martin mentions the fission affair. The war having begun, Lewis is now employed as a temporary civil servant in the ministry of Thomas Bevill. The permanent secretary there is Hector Rose. Lewis is able to place his brother in the fission program at Barford. Walter Luke, Lewis's friend, is also there, in addition to Kurt Puchwein, a German refugee, Mounteney, an older man and Nobel Prize recipient. Several of the sientists involved are Communist sympathizers. In the initial arrangement of the enterprise there was an underestimate of the men, time, and materials required to achieve the goals set for it.

After the Americans join the war and several of the scientists are sent to America, Walter Luke pushes for support for his scheme of producting heavy water. The minister, Thomas Bevill, decides to support Luke's proposal. In the first attempt there is failure. Additional government backing is received, (it is by no means a sure thing), and success follows failure. Minute amounts of uranium are being changed to plutonium. Luke and another worker get radiation sickness as a result of the Barford experiments.

In 1945 one of the scientists returns from America, Los Alamos, to announce a bomb has been developed. The news causes Martin and Luke desolating disappointment. Francis Getliffe and another English scientist travel to America to protest the use of the bomb. The next thing that Lewis knows is that the bomb has been detonated. The reaction he discerns, of the people in the pubs, is fear. Following the use of a bomb at Nagasaki, the news of Hiroshima causes dismay to everyone. The scientists assumed that Nagasaki, the plutonium bomb, had been dropped as an experiment.

Security agents came to believe that an English-born atomic scientist has been providing information to the Russians. After another scientist is arrested, Martin is able to wear-down the British-born suspect because he has worked with him, side-by-side. Even the hardiest people, it seems, are subject to agoraphobia, a sense of extreme isolation, loneliness.

In this novel the series title, STRANGERS AND BROTHERS, comes into play. Lewis and his brother Martin have a bitter quarrel. In the end the younger brother plots his course to get out from under the influence of the older brother. Distrusting ideology, (this was written in the fifties), Martin decides to pursue pure science in an academic setting. He gives up power. C.P. Snow is particularly adroit, Proustian, in this volume.

Boek is beschikbaar in de Mediatheek.