Hunner, Jon

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Hunner, Jon


Education: St. John's College, B.A., 1974; University of New Mexico, M.A., 1992; University of New Mexico, Ph.D., 1996.


Home—Las Cruces, NM. Office—Department of History, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30001, MSC 3H, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001; fax: (505) 646-8148. E-mail—[email protected].


New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, professor and director of Public History Program. Worked for New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance, 1997-2001. Speaker at various universities and conferences. Member of Centennial of New Mexico Statehood Task Force. Consultant to New Mexico History Museum. Judge and advisor for Southern New Mexico History Day competition, 1999—.


International Network in Historic Environment Education and Time Travels, National Council on Public History (member of board of directors).


Senior Fulbright Fellowship for public history work in Sweden, 2001; Heritage Preservation Award, New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, 2004, for outstanding public historian in the state; Commendation Award, American Association for State and Local History, 2004, for course and publication "Time Traveling through New Mexico's Past: The Spanish Colonial Period"; Darnell Award, New Mexico State University, 2004; Outstanding Achievement Award, New Mexico State University, 2006; various grants for research and work on public history projects.



(Compiler) A Selective Bibliography of New Mexico History, Center for the American West (Albuquerque, NM), 1992.

(With Shirley Lail, Pedro Dominguez, Darren Court, and Lucinda Silva) Santa Fe: An Historical Walking Tour, Arcadia Publishing (Chicago, IL), 2000.

(Coauthor) Las Cruces: City of Crosses, Arcadia (Charleston, SC), 2003.

(Coauthor) Time Traveling through New Mexico History: The Spanish Colonial Period, Public History Program, New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM), 2004.

Inventing Los Alamos: The Growth of an Atomic Community, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Atomic Culture: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, edited by Scott Zeman and Michael Amundson, University Press of Colorado (Boulder, CO), 2004; Western Lives: A Biographical History of the American West, edited by Richard Etualain, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2004; and Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project, edited by Cynthia C. Kelly, World Scientific (Hackensack, NJ), 2006. Contributor to periodicals, including New Mexico Historical Review and Public Historian.


Jon Hunner has been interested in the history and development of atomic weapons, and the culture surrounding them, since he was a child. His fascination originally stemmed from his father's job; he guarded nuclear weapons for the Air Force, and the Hunner family home was even decorated with pictures taken during the development of the atomic bomb. This special interest merged with Hunner's expertise in the field of Southwestern history when he decided to write his book Inventing Los Alamos: The Growth of an Atomic Community.

Los Alamos, New Mexico, was once the isolated campus of a boys' school, but was taken over during World War II for use as the site to develop and test the atomic bomb. In 1943 the project of creating a community to support the research and development teams was begun. During this time, and for many years after the end of World War II, the community of Los Alamos was a top-secret, closely guarded place populated by many top scientists and their families. In writing Inventing Los Alamos, Hunner wanted to chronicle the growth of the town, and also to try to understand how life in such a closed world would be the same—or different—from life anywhere else. His book covers the period between 1942 to 1957, the year in which security fences were removed from the residential part of town. At that point, Los Alamos began its transformation from secret military outpost to normal United States town.

To create his history, the author drew on the memories of people ranging from the nuclear scientists who were actively engaged in work on the bomb to the maids and guards who occupied the lower stations in Los Alamos's social structure. Many of those interviewed by Hunner were born in Los Alamos and have lived there all their lives. To flesh out the story of how Los Alamos affected the world, his book also includes sections about Hiroshima, where the atomic bomb was first detonated as an act of war; nuclear testing that went on in the Pacific; and politics in Washington, DC, that affected the course of life in Los Alamos. Reviewing the book for the Historian, Russell B. Olwell commented that the author's "approach is broad and his writing steers a clear path toward the middle ground of atomic historiography." Gilbert Taylor, writing in Booklist, called Inventing Los Alamos a "studious" work that would function as "an ably researched supplement" to general histories about the development of the atomic bomb.



American Historical Review, June, 2006, Allan M. Winkler, review of Inventing Los Alamos: The Growth of an Atomic Community, p. 859.

American Scientist, July 1, 2005, review of Inventing Los Alamos, p. 369.

Booklist, October 1, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Inventing Los Alamos, p. 297.

Business History Review, summer, 2005, review of Inventing Los Alamos.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July 1, 2005, A.O. Edmond, review of Inventing Los Alamos, p. 2049.

Historian, summer, 2006, Russell B. Olwell, review of Inventing Los Alamos.

Internet Bookwatch, October, 2007, review of Inventing Los Alamos.

Journal of American History, December, 2005, Michael J. Yavenditti, review of Inventing Los Alamos, p. 1042.

Journal of the West, summer, 2005, Erik Loomis, review of Inventing Los Alamos.

Pacific Historical Review, November, 2005, Thomas R. Wellock, review of Inventing Los Alamos, p. 649.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2007, review of Inventing Los Alamos.

Western Historical Quarterly, May, 1993, review of A Selective Bibliography of New Mexico History, p. 283; spring, 2006, John M. Findlay, review of Inventing Los Alamos.


New Mexico State University Research Magazine, (February 20, 2008), Julie M. Hughes, interview with Jon Hunner.

New Mexico State University Web site, (February 20, 2008), biographical information on Jon Hunner.