American Prometheus The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

ISBN-10: 0375726268

ISBN-13: 9780375726262

Edition: 2006

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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. From the Hardcover edition.
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Book details

List price: $21.00
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 4/11/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 784
Size: 5.25" wide x 7.75" long x 1.50" tall
Weight: 1.826
Language: English

Kai Bird is the co-author with Martin J. Sherwin of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, "American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer" (2005), which also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography. His other books include "The Chairman: John J. McCloy, the Making of the American Establishment" (1992) and "The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy & William Bundy, Brothers in Arms "(1998). Bird's many honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the German Marshall Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation. A contributing editor of "The Nation", he lives in Kathmandu, Nepal, with his wife and son.

"He Received Every New Idea as Perfectly Beautiful"
"His Separate Prison"
"I Am Having a Pretty Bad Time"
"I Find the Work Hard, Thank God, & Almost Pleasant"
"I Am Oppenheimer"
"The Nim Nim Boys"
"In 1936 My Interests Began to Change"
"[Frank] Clipped It Out and Sent It In"
"More and More Surely"
"I'm Going to Marry a Friend of Yours, Steve"
"We Were Pulling the New Deal to the Left"
"The Coordinator of Rapid Rupture"
"The Chevalier Affair"
"He'd Become Very Patriotic"
"Too Much Secrecy"
"Oppenheimer Is Telling the Truth ..."
"Suicide, Motive Unknown"
"Would You Like to Adopt Her?"
"Bohr Was God, and Oppie Was His Prophet"
"The Impact of the Gadget on Civilization"
"Now We're All Sons-of-Bitches"
"Those Poor Little People"
"I Feel I Have Blood on My Hands"
"People Could Destroy New York"
"Oppie Had a Rash and Is Now Immune"
"An Intellectual Hotel"
"He Couldn't Understand Why He Did It"
"I Am Sure That Is Why She Threw Things at Him"
"He Never Let On What His Opinion Was"
"Dark Words About Oppie"
"Scientist X"
"The Beast in the Jungle"
"It Looks Pretty Bad, Doesn't It?"
"I Fear That This Whole Thing Is a Piece of Idiocy"
"A Manifestation of Hysteria"
"A Black Mark on the Escutcheon of Our Country"
"I Can Still Feel the Warm Blood on My Hands"
"It Was Really Like a Never-Never-Land"
"It Should Have Been Done the Day After Trinity"
Epilogue: "There's Only One Robert"
Author's Note and Acknowledgments
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