Knowledge and the Bomb: Nuclear secrecy in the United States, 1939-2008


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History of Science


This dissertation traces the history of nuclear weapons secrecy in the United States from the discovery of fission through the present era. As a narrative and analytic history, the project focuses on how ideas about the nature of science, technology, and governance intersected at the question of how and whether to restrict information as a means of guarding against war, nuclear proliferation, and nuclear terrorism. Framing its arguments within the context of American institutions of power, the study shows that ideas about the effectiveness of secrecy are historically contingent, not technologically determined, and traces the relative success of the discourse of secrecy against other competing discourses in government and society.