Lilienthal on Strauss

Lewis Strauss looms large over the first decade of postwar reactor history. He was a commissioner under AEC’s first chairman, David Lilienthal, also under the second chairman, Gordon Dean, then got the top job from new president Eisenhower. He attracted strong antipathy. Here is Lilienthal diarising about Strauss at the apex of power in late 1954.

It is completely understandable that I should look at things today in atomic energy and see their irony. Most of it centers about Strauss. (I didn’t feel this when Gordon Dean was Chairman). For example: the things I fought for, in the direction of cooperation between this country and the United Kingdom and Canada, are now being talked about as desirable by the man who, more than anyone else, tried (as I see it) to sink them, when he was a member of our AEC team. To have Lewis Strauss making speeches, or prepare speeches for the President, about spreading atomic knowledge when he did so much to make that impossible in the early days, is a bit of irony enough to try a tougher and more objective person than I am.

Lilienthal, David E. 1966. The Journals of David E. Lilienthal, Vol. 3, Venturesome Years, 1950-1955. Harper & Row, New York, pp. 555-556.