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The 4th Spy at Los Alamos – part 1 / Cindy Bruchmann book review

Last fall, a pair of historians revealed that yet another Soviet spy, code named Godsend, had infiltrated the Los Alamos laboratory where the world’s first atom bomb was built. But they were unable to discern the secrets he gave Moscow or the nature of his work.

However, the lab recently declassified and released documents detailing the spy’s highly specialized employment and likely atomic thefts, potentially recasting a mundane espionage case as one of history’s most damaging.

It turns out that the spy, whose real name was Oscar Seborer, had an intimate understanding of the bomb’s inner workings. His knowledge most likely surpassed that of the three previously known Soviet spies at Los Alamos, and played a crucial role in Moscow’s ability to quickly replicate the complex device. In 1949, the Soviets detonated a knockoff, abruptly ending Washington’s monopoly on nuclear weapons.

Stuart Seborer

The documents from Los Alamos show that Mr. Seborer helped devise the bomb’s explosive trigger — in particular, the firing circuits for its detonators. The successful development of the daunting technology let Los Alamos significantly reduce the amount of costly fuel needed for atomic bombs and began a long trend of weapon miniaturization. The technology dominated the nuclear age, especially the design of small, lightweight missile warheads of enormous power.

Mr. Seborer’s inner knowledge stands in contrast to the known espionage. The first Los Alamos spy gave the Soviets a bomb overview. So did the second and third.

Mr. Klehr, an emeritus professor of politics and history at Emory University, said the new information cast light on a furtive boast about the crime. Last fall, in the scholarly paper, the two historians noted that Mr. Seborer fled the United States in 1951 and defected to the Soviet bloc with his older brother Stuart, his brother’s wife and his mother-in-law.

Ship manifest

The paper also noted that an F.B.I. informant learned that a communist acquaintance of the Seborers eventually visited them. The family lived in Moscow and had assumed the surname Smith. The visitor reported back that Oscar and Stuart had said they would be executed for “what they did” if the brothers ever returned to the United States.

Last fall, the historians described the Seborers as a Jewish family from Poland that, in New York, became “part of a network of people connected to Soviet intelligence.” Both Oscar and Stuart attended City College, “a hotbed of communist activism,” the historians wrote.

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

Stuart took a math class there in 1934 with Julius Rosenberg, they reported. In a notorious Cold War spy case, Mr. Rosenberg and his wife, Ethel, were convicted of giving the Soviets atomic secrets. In 1953 they were executed at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, N.Y., orphaning their two sons, ages 6 and 10.

The scholarly paper, written with John Earl Haynes, a former historian at the Library of Congress, appeared in the September issue of Studies in Intelligence. The journal, a C.I.A. quarterly, is published for the nation’s intelligence agencies as well as academic and independent scholars.

The Times’s article ran on Nov. 23, a Saturday. Four days later, a reporter sent the scholarly paper to Los Alamos and asked if the lab’s archive had any photos of Mr. Seborer or relevant documents.

Two weeks later, on Dec. 10, the lab emailed 10 pages of newly declassified documents from 1956. The material consists mainly of a correspondence between a top security official at Los Alamos and the lab’s branch of the Atomic Energy Commission, a federal agency that oversaw the weapons development site. The letters discussed an F.B.I. investigation of Mr. Seborer’s espionage but gave no specifics on what he may have delivered to Moscow. Instead, the exchange dwelled on the secrets available to him.

The documents include pages from a 1945 Los Alamos telephone directory as a way of confirming the suspect’s lab employment.

All three previously known Los Alamos spies told the Soviets of a secret bomb-detonation method known as implosion. The technique produced a bomb far more sophisticated than the crude one dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. A prototype of the implosion device was tested successfully in the New Mexican desert in July 1945, and a bomb of similar design was dropped on Nagasaki weeks later, on Aug. 9. Four years later, the Soviets successfully tested an implosion device.

The early bombs relied on two kinds of metallic fuel, uranium and plutonium. The bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima worked by firing one cylinder of uranium fuel into a second one, to form a critical mass. Atoms then split apart in furious chain reactions, releasing huge bursts of energy.

In contrast, the implosion bomb started with a ball of plutonium surrounded by a large sphere of conventional explosives. By design, their detonation produced waves of pressure that were highly focused and concentrated. The waves crushed inward with such gargantuan force that the dense ball of plutonium metal was compressed into a much denser state, triggering the atomic blast.

To be continued………..

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Book Review – “Inside The Gold Plated Pistol”  by: Cindy Bruchmann

I am not adept at doing book reviews and I rarely do one for a fiction piece, but our fellow blogger and U.S. Navy Veteran, Cindy Bruchmann, has created a very unique volume.

Inside the Gold Plated Pistol, Cynthia Bruchmann

As characters are being introduced, you are following the plot through the eyes of that person.  With each view, the story-line progresses.  Early on you will discover what is Inside the Gold Plated Pistol, but you will need to continue reading to see what becomes of the people surrounding the mystery.

I enjoyed Cindy’s insistence on researching 1928 and on into the 1930’s era.  The Native American relationship with the white man (or woman).  Her use of detail only enhances the tale.  I was amazed to learn that Hershey’s Kisses were around that long ago, what the movie industry was like or that Bob’s Big Boy diners started back then – who knew?

I don’t think I should continue any further, lest I give huge spoilers away – and that is not my intent.  But I do hope I piqued your interest!!

Check it out!!

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Military spy Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John T. Avella – brn: Solopaca, ITA/Tom’s River, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, 405th Infantry, Bronze Star

George Correia Sr. – Tiverton, RI; US Navy, WWII

Verne Hinkle – Jackson, MI; US Army, WWII, infantry

Andrew Klein – Forest Grove, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt. JG, USS Sanborn, navigator

Ruth McVaden (100) – MS; US Army WAC, WWII, ETO, Specialist, nurse

John J. Murphy – Chicago, IL; US Air Force, Vietnam, jet engine mechanic

Ryan S. Phaneuf – Hudson, NH; US Air Force, Afghanistan, Captain, 37th Bomb Squadron, KIA (E-11 crash)

Charles Ruggles – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII,PTO, Co. I/511/11th Airborne Division

Lester Sanders – San Augustine, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Ryan K. Voss – Yigo, Guam; US Air Force Afghanistan, Lt. Col., HQ Air Control Command, KIA (E-11 crash)

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Kamikaze From Kalmykia — Samurai Uncle Sasha

An amazing war time story from the Japanese side.

Contra Spem Spero... Et Rideo

kamikaze plain

Esiteru Nakagawa was born in Tokyo, in the family of actors, the eldest child with eight sisters and two brothers. When the Great East Asian War, as Japanese call WWII, started, Esiteru enrolled in a military flight school, but has been sent to the front before graduation.

Kamikaze pilots bow to the Emperor before the battleKamikaze pilots bow to the Emperor before the battle

He completed his pilot training in aerial combat missions in the skies over Burma, the Philippines and Singapore.

Air ace Imperial Japanese Army, Commander of the Order of the Kinshi Kunsho (Golden Kite) fighter pilot, First Lieutenant Esiteru NakagawaFighter pilot of Imperial Japanese Army, Commander of the Order of Kinshi Kunsho (Golden Kite) First Lieutenant Esiteru Nakagawa

He was a valiant soldier and an excellent fighter pilot. During multiple flight missions he shot down 18 US bomber aircraft, more than enough to become a Commander of the Order of Kinshi Kunsho (Golden Kite) and, ahead of schedule, recieve the rank of “tyui” — First Lieutenant. Most importantly, for his bravery he was elevated to the ranks of samurai and bestowed a katana

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