Historical Society Presents Lecture By Author Nancy Greenspan Sept. 15 On Her New Book

Author Nancy Greenspan is featured in the Sept. 15 online Los Alamos Historical Society Lecture. Courtesy photo


Join the Los Alamos Historical Society online at 6 p.m. on September 15 for an exciting presentation by author Nancy Greenspan about her new book Atomic Spy: The Dark Lives of Klaus Fuchs. What motivated Manhattan Project scientist Klaus Fuchs to begin a secret life of espionage?

Historical Society lectures are free, but registration is required to provide you with the Zoom link. Lectures are limited to 100 participants, so sign up early to reserve your spot. To register, visit http://www.losalamoshistory.org/events and follow the links to our EventBrite page.

In addition, the Historical Society will announce the winner of this year’s Los Alamos History Award before the lecture.

German by birth, British by naturalization, Communist by conviction, Klaus Fuchs was a fearless Nazi resister, a brilliant scientist, and an infamous spy. He was convicted of espionage by Britain in 1950 for handing over the designs of the plutonium bomb to the Soviets and has gone down in history as one of the most dangerous agents in American and British history. He put an end to America’s nuclear hegemony and single-handedly heated up the Cold War. However, was Klaus Fuchs really evil?

Fuchs was a man molded by his roots and the cataclysmic events of history that still bedevil the mind. When his path as a serious student of mathematics crossed these perils, he took life-threatening risks and made grave choices. Reaching a deeper understanding of who he was, what he did, why he did it, and how he was caught allows us to reflect on what this extraordinary life—a cautionary tale about morality and the prisms through which we perceive it—means today.

The question of moral accountability is difficult to resolve. In our current, chaotic world, as in the Iron Curtain world of the mid-20th century, ambiguity prevails. Nancy Thorndike Greenspan was a health economist and in the 1980s began a writing career as the co-author of four books with her husband, the late child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan. She is the author of two biographies, The End of the Certain World: The Life and Science of Max Born (Basic Books, 2005) and the recently published Atomic Spy: The Dark Lives of Klaus Fuchs (Viking, May 2020). She has served on the boards of numerous environmental organizations and committees and boards of the American Institute of Physics. An ice dancer, she spends her free time at the rink. Greenspan lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

The lecture series will continue with 6 p.m. presentations on October 13 and November 17. Matthew Shindell will present the October 13 lecture, “The Life and Science of Harold C. Urey: A Biographical Examination of 20th Century Science.” On November 17, Alex Wellerstein will present “The ‘Best-Kept Secret of the War’? The Successes and Failures of Manhattan Project Secrecy.”

The Los Alamos Historical Society lecture series is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Enterprise Bank & Trust, Member FDIC; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the New Mexico Humanities Council; and Robin and Richard McLean.

The Los Alamos Historical Society preserves, promotes, and communicates the remarkable history and inspiring stories of Los Alamos and its people for our community, for the global audience, and for future generations. More information about the Historical Society can be found at http://www.losalamoshistory.org. Stay up to date with the latest news from the Historical Society by following @LosAlamosHistory on Facebook and Instagram. Our members make all our work possible. Join us today at https://www.losalamoshistory.org/membership.html.