Richard Lee Rhodes is an American journalist, historian, and author of both fiction and non-fiction (which he prefers to call "verity"), including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986) and, most recently, Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race (2007). He has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, among others.
He is an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. He also frequently lectures and talks on various subjects to various audiences, including testifying before the U.S. Senate on nuclear energy.
Richard Rhodes was born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1937. Following his mother's suicide on July 25, 1938, Rhodes and his older brother Stanley have raised in the Kansas City, Missouri, area by his father, a railroad boilermaker with a third-grade education. When Rhodes was ten, their father remarried. The new wife starved, exploited, and abused the children. One day Stanley walked into a police station and reported their living conditions.
The brothers were removed from their father's custody and sent to the Andrew Drumm Institute, an institution for boys founded in 1928 in Independence, Missouri. The brothers' admission was an anomaly as the institution was designed for orphaned or indigent boys, and they fit neither category. The Drumm Institute is still in operation today and now accepts both boys and girls. Rhodes became a member of the board of trustees in 1991. Rhodes wrote about his childhood in A Hole in the World.
Richard and Stanley lived at Drumm for the remainder of their adolescence. Both graduated from high school. Rhodes was admitted to Yale University with a full scholarship and graduated with honors in 1959, a member of the Manuscript Society.
Rhodes has published 23 books and numerous articles for national magazines and wrote a play based on the historic 1986 meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. His best-known work, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, was published in 1986 and earned him the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards. Many of his personal documents and research materials are part of the Kansas Collection at the Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.
Rhodes is the father of two children and is a grandfather. He and his second wife, Ginger Rhodes, have made their home in California.