Customer Reviews for

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 46 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted September 1, 2010

    Well done, makes a person think

    The well-written biography is presented with strong voice and revealing examples. It is as much the story of one man's contributions to science as it is a warning shot over the bow of American freedom. It was a thought-provoking read.
    The first third of the book examines Oppenheiver's leadership of the team that developed atomic weaponry. The second third is a detailed look at the post-war investigations of Oppenheimer's alleged affiliation with the Communist Party, and the last part of the book follows his self-imposed isolation in the aftermath of a carefully designed campaign to discredit him.

    The authors present Oppenheimer as a mercurial man whose charm and broad intellectual interests created an almost cult-like following, but also generated liaisons and outbursts that would haunt him for life. The story reveals the patriotic pride he felt at his team's ability to fashion the atom bomb, the ethical misgivings over such a destructive weapon, and the sense of betrayal when the military chose to use the weapon on an enemy whose battle had already been lost. Documented in careful detail are the nearly continuous military, congressional, and FBI investigations into allegations of Oppenheimer's membership in the Communist Party and his threat to national security. These activities were conducted without regard for Constitutional due process and lacked even a hint of legal varnish. One man's persistent and vitriolic strategy ultimately succeeded in stripping Oppenheimer of his security clearances, and took the starch out of his public personae. While Oppenheimer remained convinced that peace could be better pursued by open communications rather than threats of mass destruction, his public proclamations became subtle and ambiguous. Together with his wife, he spent a great deal of time away from prying eyes, enjoying a small group of friends on a quiet bay in the Virgin Islands.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2006

    Outstanding Biography

    Bird and Sherwin amply deserved the Pulitzer for this book, a true, frightening and contemporary telling of, as the subtitle reads, the triumph and tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. The story is utterly fascinating, told in scrupulous and well researched detail butrather than being dry and academic (as Oppenheimer could be), the book is a pageturner. The destruction of his career by Lewis Strauss (with a great assist from Oppenheimer himself) is harrowing and almost physically painful to read. A cautionary tale, a biography, a history, all rolled into a great read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2005

    The Price of Genius

    In their book, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin have created a biographical masterpiece that will not soon be outdone. The authors research and writing has given the reader a candid, yet complicated and conflicted portrait of one of America¿s leading scientific minds of the twentieth century. Their research is comprehensive and their writing intelligible as can be seen as Bird and Sherwin recreate Oppenheimer¿s grand yet tragic life from his lecture at the New York Mineralogical Club at age twelve, to the 1954 security hearings in Washington that altered his later life. The question of Oppenheimer¿s affiliation with and membership in the American Communist Party is factually covered in detail along with his battles against the American political system and government powerbrokers. Bird and Sherwin remind the reader that while Oppenheimer may not have won the Noble Prize in physics, he should certainly be given the credit for opening the door for other physicist, such as Ernest Orlando Lawrence, to win the coveted Nobel Prize. While Oppenheimer had a dark side to his personality, the authors show us that Oppenheimer was not only a genius in theoretical physics, but was remarkably well versed in many fields including poetry, art, music, books. . . . He also loved camping in the wilds of New Mexico, and horseback riding near his beloved Pierro Caliente Ranch. Oppenheimer¿s love affairs with country, wife, children, friends, science and women are also well documented. ¿American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer¿ was a great read. It also puts to rest many unanswered and troubling questions concerning the life and times of J. Robert Oppenheimer. This masterpiece of literary work will not be outdone any time soon.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    An excellent read that was very well written. It not only cover

    An excellent read that was very well written. It not only covers the
    life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, but also an insight into the politics and
    history of his time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A must read to understand America from 1930s to 1950s

    Oppenheimer's story was very interesting as you see how a very complex man tried to deal with complex issues in a very complex time period. However the novel is most important in helping the reader understand those complex issues and those very politically complex times.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2005

    As relevant a story today as it was decades ago.

    This is an engrossing review of our country's nuclear policy and the men who initially shaped the nuclear age. Amazingly, the same discussion takes place in our time!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2014

    Haunted

    She rubs her face. "Done. I'm done."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2014

    Y and Y

    Wow. You like to complain. They merely felt uncomfortable around you, and you decide to leave. Wow. -_-

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2014

    Coal to A&E

    Wow. I love you too. And didn't sev said to stop the drama.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2014

    Adam and Eve(a.k.a. - Kristen Nicole)

    F you all

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2014

    Sev

    He rubs his temples, the look of anger spreading across his features. Through gritted teeth he says, "How about if you are too coward enough to post your name along with your opinion, then keep your mouth shut. This place will not have drama, all of you get over it. Now."

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  • Posted March 13, 2014

    This Book Got Me Into Physics

    This book was amazing. I read it for 3 days straight. I couldn't put it down, I was fascinated by the life of someone so looming in American history. This book goes analytically from the beginning of Oppenheimer's life to his final years of being shunned by the government. There are appearances by other famous characters just as looming in the scientific establishment of the time. Oppenheimer went from first rate scientist to administrator of arguably the greatest scientific program in history. Seeing the change was amazing.

    This book will make you sad, happy, understanding, and ignite a passion for physics.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2012

    An interesting life

    This is an excellent account of Oppenheimer and his times. He was an incredible person dealing with complex moral and scientific issues.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    very well written

    this book was very good all together and information wise. Oppenheimer was a very prominent figure in history and this book tells you why.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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