- LAURENCE, WILLIAM L.
- LAURENCE, WILLIAM L. (1888–1977), U.S. journalist and science writer. Born in Lithuania and educated in the U.S., Laurence became a science reporter for several leading newspapers and magazines. He joined The New York Times as science reporter in 1930. In 1937 he won his first Pulitzer Prize for distinguished science reporting. In April 1945 he was recruited to become the official chronicler of the development of the atom bomb. He was permitted to interview the scientists working on the Manhattan Project and to prepare the press releases when the new weapon was used. On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, accompanying the U.S. bomber crew on its second mission, Laurence was on the B-29 Superfort that dropped an atom bomb on Nagasaki. The explosive energy of the bomb's active substance, wrote Laurence, was "equivalent to 20,000 and, under favorable conditions, 40,000 tons of TNT." He wrote the official eyewitness account of the bombing. Laurence won his second Pulitzer "for his eye-witness account of the atom-bombing of Nagasaki and his subsequent ten articles on the development, production, and significance of the atomic bomb." He was the only reporter to witness the atomic bomb tests in a desert in New Mexico in 1945 and was selected by the U.S. War Department to write the story of the bomb, Dawn over Zero (1946). (Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.