Theodore Hall is particular is interesting because he did it believing that a single country having a monopoly on nuclear energy would result in another Nazi-like menace being unleashed on the world. Quite a mature and far-sighted opinion for someone only 19 years of age.
It's an excellent read, cover-to-cover. One of the few assigned books I read with excitement while in undergrad.
It's an account of the German nuclear programs, with the centrepiece being a curated set of transcripts from secret recordings of the candid conversations of a group of German scientists detained after the war.
Some vaguely YC-ish lessons on how their failure to produce could be attributed in many ways to seemingly mundane organizational structures that were debatably inherent to Nazi German society and internal politics.
Also some borderline pornographic payoff when they find out about Hiroshima. At the time, they were convinced they were 10 years ahead of anyone else, and were being detained as a prelude to being showered with honours and put in place to bring American and British science into the modern age. Then they set about convincing themselves they failed on purpose for moral reasons.
The book details the Soviet nuclear program, as well as the truly massive amount of espionage that was going on at the various locations of the Manhattan project.
For comparison, Agnew is 3 years younger than Feynman so he was 22 in that picture, and Luis Alvarez was 32.
Sadly, many ended up getting sick due to the dangerous work environment. I've seen pictures of guys holding uranium rods with barely any protection.
Many wont speak or seek help because the secret nature of the sites is so engrained into their psyche.
This is often safe, actually, but that's not always the case. How safe can depend on a few factors, such as enrichment, purity, presence of neutron moderator (graphite, water, beryllium, etc...)
I've been within several feet of low-enrichment uranium rods before without any specific protection equipment (i.e. water) at one of the reactors I've visited.
Spent rods are definitely dangerous though.
I've done this and I'm okay.