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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.
One of the best books I've ever read, fascinating and spellbinding at the same time, hard to believe it's a true story?Published 25 days ago by Todd S Sonnier
This may be the best book I ever read, and I do read a lot. It is a long book, and extremely well researched. I found it fascination beyond words. Read morePublished 1 month ago by linnie
This is among the best biographies every written. Truly, like J Robert Oppenheimer himself, Bird is in the 99th percentile. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kyle A. Hamilton
Kai Bird delivers a solid story. Full of riveting details of Oppenheimer's life, his triumphs and, ultimately, his slow but inevitable decline and death. A must read.Published 1 month ago by robert b. lane
A quality book. The author appears to be VERY fair in the treatment of ambiguous issues such as Oppenheimer's relationships to the communist party and the opinions/decisions about... Read morePublished 1 month ago by DR