Top Secret: Censoring the first rough drafts of atomic-bomb history

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Jul 30, 2008

After the surrender of Germany in World War II but before the defeat of Japan, the first U.S. full-fledged science writer, William L. Laurence, while on the payroll of both The New York Times and the U.S. government, was given exclusive journalistic access by the U.S. War Department to operate behind what he calls the "Atomic Curtain" and to write news articles that were then disseminated for free worldwide for the lay public.

Keever's research article on Laurence's work is being published in the London-based Media History refereed journal, Volume 14, No. 2, pages 185-204. Her article is based on analyzing for the first time about 250 pages of typed carbon copies of Laurence's drafts that were marked up by U.S. government censors before publication, thus establishing early on the official U.S. monopoly over the public awareness of this revolutionary weapon, both domestically and internationally. These carbon copies were stamped TOP SECRET in red ink at the time, were since declassified, and read by the author in the National Archives annex outside Washington, D. C.