Gal Beckerman in Forward:
Most famously, there was J. Robert Oppenheimer who ran the Manhattan Project, which gave the world the atom bomb. After him came Edward Teller, the Hungarian Jew who engineered an incredibly destructive upgrade: the hydrogen bomb.
And then there was Samuel T. Cohen, the lesser-known Jewish physicist who rounds off this troika but whose invention, the neutron bomb, has been relegated to ignominy. Like the other two, Cohen, a Manhattan Project veteran, was present at the creation.
Cohen died last year on November 28 at the age of 89, and received the requisite New York Times obituary in recognition of his unique contribution to the technology of mass killing. But neither the Times nor other notices of Cohen’s death took note of the unique document that he left behind before he died: a no-holds-barred, angry memoir, titled “F*** You: Mr. President.”
It is an autobiography unlike anything ever published by a Manhattan Project insider. Cohen’s memoir lays bare a trove of revelations about the combustible mix of geniuses who came together for that historic enterprise — and self-revelations about Cohen’s own life and what motivated him to devote his career to wholesale death.
By the time of his demise, Cohen was a man made bitter by his frustrated legacy, by the fundamental disconnect between how he saw the neutron bomb, his prize creation — what he called “the most sane and moral weapon ever devised” — and the revulsion with which the world received it.