In January 1939 the news of the discovery of nuclear fission burst in America, sending physicists into their laboratories to try to confirm the startling new discovery. Some aspects of the story of how this news reached America are well known. Others, however, are not; they have remained hidden in private correspondence and other unpublished documents. By examining these materials in conjunction with the published literature, one can reconstruct the circumstances that converged to produce this historic event.

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