7,392 book reviews and counting...

The Bastard Brigade Reviews

The Bastard Brigade by Sam Kean

The Bastard Brigade: The True Story of the Renegade Scientists and Spies Who Sabotaged the Nazi Atomic Bomb

Sam Kean

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Publication date: 18 Jul 2019
ISBN: 9781529374865

New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean tells the incredible story of how a renegade group of spies kept Hitler from obtaining his ultimate prize: a nuclear bomb.

1 stars out of 5
26 Jul 2019


“I look for rip-roarin’ stories first and foremost,” Sam Kean writes in the heart-sinking prologue to this infuriating book. “I want heroes and villains, conflict and drama, plot twists and redemption.” That is all very well, but if you exclude all the other parts of history that are complicated, uncertain and exist in shades of grey, you end up with a Technicolor melodrama that is entertaining but unreal... There are moments of real tension. The extraordinary story of efforts to sabotage the Norwegian heavy water plant at Telemark is retold with great brio... All too often, however, in his quest for the zingy one-liner, Kean resorts to caricature... Kean knows his facts and has clearly done an impressive amount of research, although since there are no footnotes, endnotes or citations, it is impossible to know how much comes from primary material, despite his claim to have explored “previously unpublished or overlooked sources”... This book will be lapped up by people who value theatricality much more than historical precision, namely Hollywood producers, and one cannot resist the unkind suspicion that they may be its primary audience.