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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.
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.
This book is engaging and very successful at portraying the life character and personality of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Amazing biography of one of America's most prominent scientists.Published 6 days ago by Jeremy M. Goodman
This was one of my all-time favorite biographies, which I read soon after it came out (I read it sometime in 2007) - but I never got around to writing a review - and of course this... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Book & Music thief, from HI
Excellent story, of an exceptional man. Skillfully told from thorough research. Besides it is about a most unusual man..ART PEREZPublished 21 days ago by Art Perez
I listened to the entirety of this book on CD during my daily morning and evening commutes and generally think it was a fine book... Read morePublished 24 days ago by cjl27
For anyone who has a vague recollection of Robert Oppenheimer and a gauzy understanding of and even a scintilla of interest in him, this tale will grip you and pull you through a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by John Wiest