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American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (2005)

de Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin

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1,666339,180 (4.25)62
The first full-scale biography of the "father of the atomic bomb," the brilliant, charismatic physicist who led the effort to capture the fire of the sun for his country in time of war. After Hiroshima, he became the most famous scientist of his generation--an icon of modern man confronting the consequences of scientific progress. He created a radical proposal to place international controls over atomic materials, opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb and criticized the Air Force's plans to fight a nuclear war. In the hysteria of the early 1950s, his ideas were anathema to powerful advocates of a massive nuclear buildup, and people such as Edward Teller and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover worked behind the scenes to obtain a finding that he could not be trusted with America's nuclear secrets. This book is both biography and history, significant to our understanding of our recent past--and of our choices for the future.… (més)
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Quite detailed coverage of Oppy's life, maybe even at points overly detailed in that I'm not sure some of it helped further reveal anything meaningful about his character. Should I suspect in the capable hands of Nolan make for an interesting movie. ( )
  easytarget | Aug 30, 2022 |
A powerful and expertly researched biography of Robert Oppenheimer. Possibly the definitive biography of Oppie to date. AMERICAN PROMETHEUS is a very thorough study and the footnotes are legit. It gives a lot of crucial insight into a complicated, complex historical figure. It's a thick book but it reads so well, you'll barely notice it's over 700 pages. I highly recommend reading this alongside a book like 109 EAST PALACE for more context to the Los Alamos section of Oppenheimer's life. ( )
  sarahlh | Mar 6, 2021 |
Very long (27 hours) ( )
  yukon92 | Nov 2, 2019 |
I managed to find this book fascinating and way too long. It was very well researched but lack a strong narrative arc to hold all the detail together. That said, I'm glad I stuck with it because it gave me insights into the way the scientists working on the atomic bomb deal with the moral issues surrounding the rise of nuclear weapons. The book also provides a sobering reminder of government power left unchecked. I only wish there had been more about Mr. Oppenheimer's visit to Japan. It must have had some impact on him, and likely raised some controversy in Japan???

Bottom line: worth reading and provides food for thought. ( )
  LynnB | Sep 11, 2018 |
This book was equally fascinating and way too long. Much of it was a he said / he said recounting. I'm glad that the book was exhaustively researched, but I would have easily taken the authors' word for it. Maybe replacing some of the main text as end notes instead would have eased my suffering. ( )
  lemontwist | Jun 3, 2018 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Kai Birdautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Sherwin, Martin J.autor principaltotes les edicionsconfirmat
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Modern Prometheans have raided Mount Olympus again and have brought back for man the very thunderbolts of Zeus.
-- Scientific Monthly
September 1945
Prometheus stole fire and gave it to men. But when Zeus learned of it, he ordered Hephaestus to mail his body to Mount Caucasus. On it Prometheus was nailed and kept bound for many years. Every day an eagle swooped on him and devoured the lobes of his liver, which grew by night.

-- Apollodorus, The Library, book 1:7,
second century B.C.
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for Susan Goldmark and Susan Sherwin
and in memory of
Angus Cameron
and
Jean Mayer
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Robert Oppenheimer's life -- his career, his reputation, even his sense of self-worth -- suddenly spun out of control four days before Christmas in 1953.
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The first full-scale biography of the "father of the atomic bomb," the brilliant, charismatic physicist who led the effort to capture the fire of the sun for his country in time of war. After Hiroshima, he became the most famous scientist of his generation--an icon of modern man confronting the consequences of scientific progress. He created a radical proposal to place international controls over atomic materials, opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb and criticized the Air Force's plans to fight a nuclear war. In the hysteria of the early 1950s, his ideas were anathema to powerful advocates of a massive nuclear buildup, and people such as Edward Teller and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover worked behind the scenes to obtain a finding that he could not be trusted with America's nuclear secrets. This book is both biography and history, significant to our understanding of our recent past--and of our choices for the future.

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