American Prometheus

American Prometheus

The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Book - 2006 | First edition.
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

J. Robert Oppenheimer is one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century, a brilliant physicist who led the effort to build the atomic bomb for his country in a time of war, and who later found himself confronting the moral consequences of scientific progress.

In this magisterial, acclaimed biography twenty-five years in the making, Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin capture Oppenheimer's life and times, from his early career to his central role in the Cold War. This is biography and history at its finest, riveting and deeply informative.

Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 2006.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2005
ISBN: 9780375726262
Branch Call Number: 530.092 Oppen-B
Characteristics: xiii, 721 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Sherwin, Martin J.


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Jun 03, 2020

This is an extraordinary and detailed account of the life of Robert Oppenheimer leading up to his excommunicated from government circles by vindictive Republican extremists at the apex of the McCarthyite and Hoover hysteria. Lewis Strauss, who shared membership with Oppenheimer on the Princeton Board, led the attack against Oppenheimer accusing him of attempting to sabotage efforts to develop the hydrogen bomb. In truth, Oppenheimer had expressed dismay at the military buildup of weapons of mass destruction and was advising the Atomic Energy Commission and others caution and perhaps a re-analysis of military policies. Having been the “father” of the atomic bomb, who better to understand the perils of greater explosive devices? The manipulative and rigged squelching of Oppenheimer - not for his humanist views but with accusations of being a communist - sent a clear message to scientists everywhere - science should align with government policy or else.
This is an especially chilling read in light of what we are currently seeing in the Trump administration with his continual manipulation, distortion and lies. The destruction of Oppenheimer could just as easily occur today as it did in 1954. It certainly leaves me wondering about the minds of Republicans.

his Pulitzer prize winning biography chronicles the rise of physicist Robert J. Oppenheimer, the man in charge of the Manhattan Project. This is a hefty book–26.5 hours as an audiobook–but the research and detail show through. You get insight into his life, not just his time at Los Alamos but his childhood and later in life his fall from grace as a result of the McCarthyism so rampant after the war. I enjoy history and biographies that have a lot of detail and the author manages to deliver that without losing the story or overwhelming the reader. I knew a bit about Oppenheimer before reading this book but I now have a much better understanding of his life, impact and legacy. (Submitted by Braden).

mikeyppl Apr 26, 2012

Without a doubt one of the best biographies I've ever read. a well researched in depth look at one of the 20th century's important figures.

Dec 06, 2007

Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer prize for biography.

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