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By the time the story reaches Oppenheimer's fateful Manhattan Project work, readers have been swept along much as the project's young physicists were by fate and enormous pressure. The authors allow the scientists to speak for themselves about their reactions to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, avoiding any sort of preacherly tone while revealing the utter, horrible ambiguity of the situation. For instance, Oppenheimer wrote in a letter to a friend, "The thing had to be done," then, "Circumstances are heavy with misgiving."
Many biographies of Oppenheimer end here, with the seeds of his later pacifism sown and the dangers of mixing science with politics clearly outlined. But Bird and Sherwin devote the second half of this hefty book to what happened to Oppenheimer after the bomb. For a short time, he was lionized as the ultimate patriot by a victorious nation, but things soured as the Cold War crept forward and anti-communist witchhunts focused paranoia and anti-Semitism onto Oppenheimer, destroying his career and disillusioning him about his life's work. Devastated by the atom bomb's legacy of fear, he became a vocal and passionate opponent of the Strangelovian madness that gripped the world because of the weapons he helped develop.
Twenty-five years of research went into creating American Prometheus, and there has never been a more honest and complete biography of this tragic scientific giant. The many great ironies of Oppenheimer's life are revealed through the careful reconstruction of a wealth of records, conversations, and ideas, leaving the clearest picture yet of his life. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The book is beautifully written and remarkably easy to read.
American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer... Very good book, about the genius that developed the Bomb.
Hopefully, someone will have the courage to come along one day to reveal to us how mad but also how great this man truly was.
Rich portrait, covering the person, his times, and his contributions to science. Insights and conflicting perceptions abound. An engaging read.Published 22 days ago by Avid Reader
Well researched and written account of this American hero. Any rudimentary knowledge of quantum mechanics is not required to enjoy this book. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Douglas Anderson
Compelling read that will leave you annoyed at the way the government treated Oppenheimer. A fascinating bio.Published 24 days ago by Stephen Rauscher
My background is of a technical nature but I believe any person with an interest in the overall topic; the development of the Bomb and the terrible McCarthy years will become... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Phil Rosenberg
I am about half way through this highly entertaining book. If you are looking for a definitive book on Robert Oppenheimer, this is a must have. Great read!Published 2 months ago by Michael E. Leonard