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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Confident Gen. Groves

From an interview in the October 1945 issue of Collier’s magazine, General Leslie R. Groves emerges as an extraordinarily decisive person who did not harbor self-doubts or worries during the Manhattan Project.

Document Type:
Gen. Groves.

From “The Man Who Made Manhattan” by Robert De Vore

In the days when he was building Army camps, Groves insisted upon quick decisions. It was a standing rule that all questions on the sites had to be answered in twenty-four hours or an explanation given. In Manhattan, Groves cut the time for decisions down to one hour or less—even for the most complicated ones. He can remember only one occasion when it took longer to reach a decision. That was when they had to put up at Hanford Engineer Works “things” (someday the world may know the secret of those “things”) that they couldn’t be sure would be needed. They only knew that they either were building essential parts of the plant, or, said Groves, “monuments to a bad guess.”

You can’t explain General Groves by the little things that keep up the morale of many men. He never lost faith in his ability to succeed. He and his friends will tell you that quite simply and without pretension. His friends would ask him how he bore his responsibilities. He would grin and reply, “If I can’t do the job, no one man can.”

“My emotional graph is a straight line,” Groves told me. “I never worried. This job would never have been done if I had. I never had any doubts. Not having any doubts, I could not feel very surprised or elated by our success.”