The American Atom
Garry Wills pins down the origins of the imperial presidency in the dark recesses of the Manhattan Project—and explains it all to Rick Perlstein
The Modern Presidency and the National Security State
by Garry Wills
$27.95 List Price
One day last November, I spent the morning at Garry Wills's elegant brick home along the main street of Evanston, Illinois, pondering the Promethean scale of presidential power in the atomic age. Wills's startling new book, Bomb Power (Penguin Press, $28), argues that the prototype of the modern president is not Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or Ronald Reagan. It's General Leslie Groves—the administrator of the Manhattan Project, which Wills says was the inadvertent template for today's secret government and imperial presidency. And his reasoning will scare the hell out of you.
The Manhattan Project was the single most awesome undertaking in the history of the country, occupying some eighty facilities nationwide. Hanford, in Washington State, where project officials collected and prepared the plutonium,
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