Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma

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2004 Hard Back NEW in New jacket Biography. C-FORMAT. BRAND NEW/UNREAD BOOK. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a ... return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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Overview

"J. Robert Oppenheimer was a puzzle to everyone. The nuclear physicist most responsible for the creation of the atomic bomb, he was a genius both scientifically and otherwise. His standards were impossibly high. He read widely in many languages, wrote poetry, and did superb science. Yet in Jeremy Bernstein's biographical profile, Oppenheimer emerges as man unsure of his identity and captive to an element of self-destructiveness in his makeup." Oppenheimer once told the author that during the now-famous Atomic Energy Commission hearing in which he lost his security clearance - one of the most spectacular attacks of the McCarthy era - he felt it was happening to someone else. His lawyer at the hearing, after being with Oppenheimer day in and day out for several months, confessed he did not know him in any real sense at all. Yet everyone in the scientific community and in government agreed that without Oppenheimer's totally remarkable leadership at Los Alamos, the atomic bomb would not have happened, and the Second World War would have ended very differently.
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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
Berstein has written a book that manages to be both insightful and maddening.
— Sandra G. Boodman
Issues In Science and Technology
It brims with new stories and scientific explanations, making it an ideal layman's introduction to this elusive and conflicted 20th-century giant.
— William Lanouette
Toronto Globe And Mail
His memoir, which elucudates difficult scientific problems is in the clearest English, is a must-read for anyone interested in the power of science and the state.
— Chris Scott
Journal Of The West
This portrait of the enigmatic physicist...includes several interesting anecdotes that are not well known.
— George E. Webb, Department of History, Tennessee Technological University
Journal Of Military History
It is a good introduction to Oppenheimer for neophytes and a nostalgic read for those familiar with his life.
Spectator
If anyone can shed light on the enigma that is Robert Oppenheimer it is Jeremy Bernstein…. A superb piece of work... essential reading.
Jewish Journal
Bernstein Sets Forth The Fascinating Story Of Oppenheimer's Controversial Life Successfully And Smoothly.
From The Critics
It brims with new stories and scientific explanations, making it an ideal layman's introduction to this elusive and conflicted 20th-century giant.
Issues in Science and Technology
Spectator
If anyone can shed light on the enigma that is Robert Oppenheimer it is Jeremy Bernstein.... A superb piece of work... essential reading.
Physics Today
Jeremy Bernstein is as good a writer as you can find among scientists.... A splendid, brief biography...a page turner.
Stanley I. Kutler
Jeremy Bernstein is a physicist and gifted writer who has succeeded admirably in making...science understandable to laymen.
History News Network
Jonathan Beard
Berstein...knew Oppenheimer, knows physics, and writes with verve and wit.... His book sparkles...
New Scientist
Journal of Military History
It is a good introduction to Oppenheimer for neophytes and a nostalgic read for those familiar with his life.
Sandra G. Boodman
Insightful...provocative.
—Washington Post
Midwest Book Review
...A revealing, involving, highly recommended biographical survey.
Publishers Weekly
In his preface to this portrait, Bernstein (Cranks, Quarks, and the Cosmos, etc.) is up front with his intentions; "I make no pretense of trying to write a `definitive' biography of Oppenheimer." Bernstein, a physicist who was a staff writer at the New Yorker for 39 years, is known for his profiles of top scientists, and this book is best understood as an extended magazine profile rather than an exhaustive portrait of the controversial J. Robert Oppenheimer. The author hits all the high (and low) points of Oppenheimer's life, from his role as director of the Los Alamos team that developed the atomic bomb to his struggles with the government during the McCarthy era, but we never really understand what made the physicist tick. Throughout, our view of Oppenheimer is firmly rooted in Bernstein's perspective, fleshed out in part through personal anecdotes of the rare occasions that their paths crossed. Though an interesting window into the physics community through the 20th century, the result is a relatively shallow biography that holds its subject at arm's length, filled with awe and the kind of whispered stories that graduate students pass back and forth about the paramount figures in their field. Bernstein's characterization of this as the New Yorker profile he never wrote may indicate its audience-curious general readers, not those steeped in science history. 7 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Apr. 2) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
This is one of four new books focusing on the scientist who led the program that produced the first atomic bomb. It is also the shortest and most accessible. Bernstein has been writing about complex science for an educated general audience at The New Yorker for years, and as a writer who actually studied for a time with Oppenheimer at Princeton, he's admirably suited to examine the life, work and legacy. The book is clearly and sensibly organized into five sections, covering key periods in his subject's life and work. Facts and opinions are clearly separated, and the opinions are always informed and thoughtful. When out in paperback, the other new books in the series may be welcome additions to school libraries; but this one is essential. KLIATT Codes: SA*—Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Ivan R, Dee. 223p. illus. notes. index., Ages 15 to adult.
—Daniel Levinson
Library Journal
This is not the most comprehensive biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-67), but Bernstein (Einstein) doesn't intend it as such. Instead, it is a personal account of the time that the author spent with Oppenheimer during his two years at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. Oppenheimer is an impossible person to fit neatly into any single category; many believe that without him, the atomic bomb would have never been built, yet he lost his security clearance in 1954 during the height of McCarthyism. Indeed, Bernstein dedicates substantial coverage to his "trial," letting readers see much of what happened from Oppenheimer's perspective. Preceding chapters discuss his early life, time in California, and Los Alamos, with no intended focus on his scientific achievements. Recommended for academic libraries that need additional studies of Oppenheimer.-James Olson, Northeastern Illinois Univ., Chicago Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Washington Sunday Times
Oppenheimer: A Portrait of an Enigma is full of amusing and enlightening anecdotes and asides that illuminate both Oppenheimer's personality and the milieu in which he lived. If the book has a moral, it is that even a genius can be too clever.
Booklist
What makes this little book worthwhile is its personal view of the conflicted genius. A fine introduction to an ever-fascinating man.
— Bill Ott
Bookwatch
A revealing, involving, highly recommended biographical survey.
La Times
Bernstein's engaging and revealing profile is a reminder of the events that so colored and charged Opeenheimer's life.
— Stanley I. Kutler
Nuclear News
Both personal and historical.
Buffalo Jewish Review
Bernstein sets forth the fascinating story of Oppenheimer's controversial life successfully and smoothly. Highly readable.
Toronto Globe and Mail
Bernstein, himself a theoretical physicist, has profiled scientists for The New Yorker for nearly three decades.... His memoir, which elucidates difficult scientific problems in the clearest English, is a must-read for anyone interested in the power of science and the state.
Physics Today
Jeremy Bernstein is as good a writer as you can find among scientists.... A splendid, brief biography...a page turner.
New Scientist
Berstein...knew Oppenheimer, knows physics, and writes with verve and wit…. His book sparkles…
— Jonathan Beard
El Paso Times
Bernstein does a convincing job of discovering the oddball nature of this nuclear genius.
— John Pate
New York Review
An excellent introduction.
— Thomas Powers
Review Of Higher Education
Berstein has written a book that manages to be both insightful and maddening.
— Sandra G. Boodman
The Spectator
If anyone can shed light on the enigma that is Robert Oppenheimer it is Jeremy Bernstein…. A superb piece of work... essential reading.
Issues in Science and Technology
It brims with new stories and scientific explanations, making it an ideal layman's introduction to this elusive and conflicted 20th-century giant.
— William Lanouette
Journal of The West
This portrait of the enigmatic physicist...includes several interesting anecdotes that are not well known.
— George E. Webb, Department of History, Tennessee Technological University
Journal of Military History
It is a good introduction to Oppenheimer for neophytes and a nostalgic read for those familiar with his life.
Issues In Science and Technology - William Lanouette
It brims with new stories and scientific explanations, making it an ideal layman's introduction to this elusive and conflicted 20th-century giant.
Arthur Schlesinger
Jeremy Bernstein, combining the grace of a New Yorker writer with the insight of a theoretical physicist, draws a fine and fascinating portrait of the man who gave us the atomic bomb.
Gerald Holton
Having had the advantage of shrewdly observing Oppenheimer at close range, Jeremy Bernstein combines in this gripping biography his expertise in physics and history of science with his talent as a master storyteller.
Athan Theoharis
Jeremy Bernstein has written an engrossing portrait of the life and contributions of J. Robert Oppenheimer—providing keen insights into his complex personality and, in clear language, his impressive contributions to physics and to the development of the atomic bomb.
Roger H. Stuewer
Fascinating...a splendid addition.... It reads exceedingly well from beginning to end. I was particularly impressed with his analysis of Oppenheimer's security hearing.... Every part of the book contains new and fascinating insights into Oppenheimer's life and work and the people with whom he was associated.
Booklist - Bill Ott
What makes this little book worthwhile is its personal view of the conflicted genius. A fine introduction to an ever-fascinating man.
Toronto Globe and Mail - Chris Scott
His memoir, which elucudates difficult scientific problems is in the clearest English, is a must-read for anyone interested in the power of science and the state.
La Times - Stanley I. Kutler
Bernstein's engaging and revealing profile is a reminder of the events that so colored and charged Opeenheimer's life.
Review Of Higher Education - Sandra G. Boodman
Berstein has written a book that manages to be both insightful and maddening.
New Scientist - Jonathan Beard
Berstein...knew Oppenheimer, knows physics, and writes with verve and wit…. His book sparkles…
El Paso Times - John Pate
Bernstein does a convincing job of discovering the oddball nature of this nuclear genius.
New York Review - Thomas Powers
An excellent introduction.
Journal Of The West - George E. Webb
This portrait of the enigmatic physicist...includes several interesting anecdotes that are not well known.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566635691
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 4/20/2004
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 6.64 (w) x 8.66 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

For nearly three decades Jeremy Bernstein wrote profiles of scientists for the New Yorker. Many were prize–winners, and his book Einstein was nominated for the National Book Award. But he hesitated to write about Oppenheimer until now. Mr. Bernstein, a theoretical physicist best known for his nonscientific work, has also written The Dawning of the Raj and The Merely Personal as well as Hitler's Uranium Club; Three Degrees Above Zero; and Cranks, Quarks, and the Cosmos. He lives in New York City and Aspen, Colorado.
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