Robert S. Norris is a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists and author of the definitive biography of General Leslie R. Groves, “Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project’s Indispensable Man.” In this interview, Norris provides an overview of how the Manhattan Project began, how the project sites were selected, and the role of British scientists in the project. He discusses the fear that many Manhattan Project scientists felt that Germany would develop an atomic bomb first. He explains Groves’ background, why he was the perfect leader for the project, and how he involved industry, especially DuPont, to help with the project. Norris contends that the Manhattan Project was a unique program in American history and would be difficult to replicate today.
In this interview, General Groves discusses the start of the Manhattan Project. He remembers the troubles he had working with Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner and the importance of redundancy in designing the bomb and plants like the T-Plant. He recounts how the Project came about in the first place, and the early discussions about how to proceed with uranium enrichment, plutonium production, and bomb development.