Jeremy Bernstein is a physicist and gifted writer who has succeeded admirably in making...science understandable to laymen.
History News Network
If anyone can shed light on the enigma that is Robert Oppenheimer it is Jeremy Bernstein.... A superb piece of work... essential reading.
Berstein...knew Oppenheimer, knows physics, and writes with verve and wit.... His book sparkles...
Jeremy Bernstein is as good a writer as you can find among scientists.... A splendid, brief biography...a page turner.
It is a good introduction to Oppenheimer for neophytes and a nostalgic read for those familiar with his life.
Journal of Military History
Bernstein Sets Forth The Fascinating Story Of Oppenheimer's Controversial Life Successfully And Smoothly.
...A revealing, involving, highly recommended biographical survey.
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.
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
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.