Consider this scenario for a film: At the height of World War II, a retired American professional baseball player—who happens to be multilingual—schleps into Switzerland as an American spy. Posing as a Swiss physics student, he’s carrying a loaded Berretta 9mm and a cyanide pill in his suit pocket. His mission is to assassinate the chief scientist behind the Nazi atomic weapons program. The cyanide pill is for himself—in the likely case that he gets caught after he’s done the deed. He attends the lecture and then walks through the dark streets of Zurich, chatting with the Nazi bomb maker on the way to his hotel, fingering the gun in his pocket.
What a cheesy dime novel spy plot, right? Well, folk's that’s history. The baseball player was named Moe Berg and the Nazi bomb maker was Werner Heisenberg. Did Moe Berg pull the trigger on Werner Heisenberg?
Guest: Sam Kean, author of “The Bastard Brigade: The True Story of the Renegade Scientists and Spies Who Sabotaged the Nazi Atomic Bomb”