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11.13.2015

Atomics for the Millions (1947)

Atomics for the Millions
Written by Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff and Hyman Ruchlis

Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

McGraw Hill Book Company

If there's one thing I learned from The Phantom Menace teaser trailer, it's that every generation has a legend, every journey has a first step, and every saga has a beginning. Or something like that. In this case, that legend was a teenager named Maurice Bernard Sendak, attending Lafayette High in Brooklyn, and getting his first big break when his science teacher, Hyman Ruchlis, asked him if he would be interested in illustrating a book he was co-writing with Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff, who was a part of the Atomic Bomb Project at Columbia University and the University of Chicago.

He was 18 years old at the time, and was paid $100 in exchange for his efforts. Prior to this, Maurice's claim to fame had been comic strips in his high school literary magazine.

Copies of this book now go for up to $1,500, so I wasn't able to acquire one to review it, but trying to glean as much as I can about it online, I read that it was intended to be an “amazingly clear and non-technical book [that] actually enables the reader to understand the basic principles behind the development of atomic energy, without any previous scientific or mathematical training.”

I like the cover very much. People of all colors - white, yellow... very dark blue... all walking toward a brighter tomorrow, a tomorrow brought to you by atomic energy! Who wouldn't want to get behind that? 1947 was the same year that the Truman Doctrine was created to stem the spread of communism, the Cold War ha begun in earnest, and the Doomsday Clock was introduced. So it goes.

Maurice Sendak

If anyone was marching off toward a brighter tomorrow, it was certainly Sendak himself. Eighteen of his original drawings for Atomics for the Millions have been acquired by The Rosenbach here in Philadelphia, along with the original contract he signed with the authors.

Atomics for the Millions

Atomics for the Millions

Atomics for the Millions


Atomics for the Millions


Thanks to Collecting Children's Books for the scans!

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