The Winter Fortress

Neal Bascomb book launch

Had the pleasure of attending the book launch at the Hugo House on May 5, 2016, of Neal Bascomb‘s new book, “The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb.”

This nonfiction narrative tells the story of the Vemork hydroelectric plant nestled on a precipice of a gorge in Nazi-occupied Norway and the daring commando raid by Norwegians and the British Special Operations Executive to destroy it.

Vemork was the sole supplier of the world’s heavy water, a key component of the Nazi’s proposed nuclear reactor, where it acts as a neutron moderator to slow down neutrons so that they are more likely to react with uranium-235. (Heavy water contains hydrogen atoms each having a neutron and proton [deuterium], whereas common hydrogen’s nucleus simply contains a single proton.)

Neal, who announced that he doesn’t read from his books, instead provided a fascinating account of what he learned, first-hand, from investigating the story through his travels, as well as accounts from the surviving children and grandchildren of the heroes.

Of course, we purchased a copy for our Atomic Tourism library.