American Prometheus

American Prometheus

The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Book - 2005 | First edition
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Random House, Inc.
American Prometheus is the first full-scale biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, “father of the atomic bomb,” the brilliant, charismatic physicist who led the effort to capture the awesome fire of the sun for his country in time of war. Immediately after Hiroshima, he became the most famous scientist of his generation–one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century, the embodiment of modern man confronting the consequences of scientific progress.

He was the author of a radical proposal to place international controls over atomic materials–an idea that is still relevant today. He opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb and criticized the Air Force’s plans to fight an infinitely dangerous nuclear war. In the now almost-forgotten hysteria of the early 1950s, his ideas were anathema to powerful advocates of a massive nuclear buildup, and, in response, Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss, Superbomb advocate Edward Teller and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover worked behind the scenes to have a hearing board find that Oppenheimer could not be trusted with America’s nuclear secrets.

American Prometheus sets forth Oppenheimer’s life and times in revealing and unprecedented detail. Exhaustively researched, it is based on thousands of records and letters gathered from archives in America and abroad, on massive FBI files and on close to a hundred interviews with Oppenheimer’s friends, relatives and colleagues.

We follow him from his earliest education at the turn of the twentieth century at New York City’s Ethical Culture School, through personal crises at Harvard and Cambridge universities. Then to Germany, where he studied quantum physics with the world’s most accomplished theorists; and to Berkeley, California, where he established, during the 1930s, the leading American school of theoretical physics, and where he became deeply involved with social justice causes and their advocates, many of whom were communists. Then to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where he transformed a bleak mesa into the world’s most potent nuclear weapons laboratory–and where he himself was transformed. And finally, to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, which he directed from 1947 to 1966.

American Prometheus is a rich evocation of America at midcentury, a new and compelling portrait of a brilliant, ambitious, complex and flawed man profoundly connected to its major events–the Depression, World War II and the Cold War. It is at once biography and history, and essential to our understanding of our recent past–and of our choices for the future.

Baker & Taylor
A definitive portrait of legendary scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the "father" of the atomic bomb, discusses his seminal role in the twentieth-century scientific world, as well as his lesser-known roles as family man, supposed communist, and head of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies. 50,000 first printing.

Book News
The life of Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), the father of the atomic bomb, "led him to participation in the great struggles and triumphs, in science, social justice, war, and Cold War, of the twentieth century," in the words of his biographers, Bird (a contributing editor of The Nation ) and Sherwin (English and American history, Tufts U.). Drawing on archives such as Oppenheimer's papers at the Library of Congress and FBI records of a quarter century of surveillance as well as interviews with about a hundred of the subjects friends, relatives, and colleagues, they draw a portrait of the physicist who ushered in the nuclear age and subsequently worked to end the dangers of nuclear war, a promethean figure who gave his country atomic fire and yet was punished by the powers that be for daring to question their plans for it. Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Baker
& Taylor

A portrait of scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, discusses his role in the twentieth-century scientific world, as well as his roles as family man and head of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies.

Publisher: New York : A.A. Knopf, 2005
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780375412028
0375412026
Branch Call Number: BIO Oppenheimer, R 2005
Characteristics: xiii, 721 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Sherwin, Martin J

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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.

c
Cabby
Dec 06, 2007

Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer prize for biography.

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