Coupon
Serving the Reich : The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler
by Philip Ball


Overview - After World War II, most scientists in Germany maintained that they had been apolitical or actively resisted the Nazi regime, but the true story is much more complicated. In Serving the Reich , Philip Ball takes a fresh look at that controversial history, contrasting the career of Peter Debye, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin, with those of two other leading physicists in Germany during the Third Reich: Max Planck, the elder statesman of physics after whom Germany's premier scientific society is now named, and Werner Heisenberg, who succeeded Debye as director of the institute when it became focused on the development of nuclear power and weapons.  Read more...

 
Hardcover
  • $30.00

Add to Cart + Add to Wishlist

In Stock Online.

FREE Shipping for Club Members
 
> Check In-Store Availability

In-Store pricing may vary

 
 
New & Used Marketplace 18 copies from $2.99
 
 
 

More About Serving the Reich by Philip Ball
 
 
 
Overview
After World War II, most scientists in Germany maintained that they had been apolitical or actively resisted the Nazi regime, but the true story is much more complicated. In Serving the Reich, Philip Ball takes a fresh look at that controversial history, contrasting the career of Peter Debye, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin, with those of two other leading physicists in Germany during the Third Reich: Max Planck, the elder statesman of physics after whom Germany's premier scientific society is now named, and Werner Heisenberg, who succeeded Debye as director of the institute when it became focused on the development of nuclear power and weapons.

Mixing history, science, and biography, Ball's gripping exploration of the lives of scientists under Nazism offers a powerful portrait of moral choice and personal responsibility, as scientists navigated "the grey zone between complicity and resistance." Ball's account of the different choices these three men and their colleagues made shows how there can be no clear-cut answers or judgement of their conduct. Yet, despite these ambiguities, Ball makes it undeniable that the German scientific establishment as a whole mounted no serious resistance to the Nazis, and in many ways acted as a willing instrument of the state.

Serving the Reich considers what this problematic history can tell us about the relationship of science and politics today. Ultimately, Ball argues, a determination to present science as an abstract inquiry into nature that is "above politics" can leave science and scientists dangerously compromised and vulnerable to political manipulation.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780226204574
  • ISBN-10: 022620457X
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publish Date: October 2014
  • Page Count: 303
  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.25 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > Military - World War II
Books > History > Europe - Germany
Books > Science > History

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-09-22
  • Reviewer: Staff

German science led the world until Hitler ruined it, as British science writer Ball (Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything) claims in this fine account of how it happened. Ball builds his story around three Nobel laureates: Max Planck, Peter Debye, and Werner Heisenberg. Under anti-Jewish Nazi laws, a quarter of German physicists were dismissed. Planck (1858–1947), one of Germany’s most respected scientists, appealed to authorities on behalf of Jewish colleagues, but refused to repudiate the law. A loyal patriot, he believed the legality of the dismissals did not make them right, but it made them incontestable. Heisenberg (1901–1976) endured attacks for advocating “Jewish” science (i.e., relativity and quantum physics), but participated in Germany’s effort to develop an atomic bomb. Debye (1884–1966) directed the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, following Nazi policies while also helping Jewish scientists obtain jobs in other nations. He emigrated in 1939 only after the institute was ordered to concentrate on war research. Almost all non-Jewish German scientists fretted, compromised, and looked after their own interests. Others have vilified them as collaborators, but Ball, no polemicist, thinks this was a moral failure, common and not confined to Germans. This is an important, disturbing addition to the history of science. (Nov.)

 
BAM Customer Reviews