Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb, had a thing for nuclear bombs. He wanted them bigger, smaller, faster, used in ways that no one had thought of before or since, and always more of them. He suffered no fools, and though he would be more villified than any other American scientist in the 20th century, he always dismissed his critics as lacking in common sense or patriotism. Amid Cold War paranoia and fears of the Soviet nuclear program, the stakes were simply too high: for the free world, building the most powerful weapon in history was a matter of life and horrible death.
To make his point, Teller pointed to his first-hand experience with tyranny, first under the Communists and then the Fascists, who raised hell across Hungary before he fled in the 1930s for America. His scars weren’t just psychic: a streetcar ran over Teller’s foot during his early years, leaving him hobbling for the rest of his life.