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

Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin

Jeff Cummings (Narrator)

01-01-06

26hrs 30min

Abridgement

Unabridged

Genre

Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography

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01-01-06

26hrs 30min

Abridgement

Unabridged

Genre

Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography

Description

“[A] stunning blockbuster…[from] two accomplished Cold War historians.” Foreign Affairs

Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Winner of the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography
Winner of the 2006 Ambassador Book Award for Biography/Autobiography
A #1 New York Times bestseller
A #1 New York Times Bestseller in Audio
A USA Today bestseller 
An Audible.com bestseller
A #1 Amazon bestseller in Audiobooks
A Barnes & Noble bestseller
A Time Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
A New York Times Notable Book
A Top 10 Bookstat Bestseller in Audiobooks
A Barnes & Noble Pick of This Week's Top 10 Most Popular Books
See All +

The inspiration for the major motion picture Oppenheimer, this is the definitive biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a brilliant physicist who led the effort to build the atomic bomb for his country in a time of war and who later found himself confronting the moral consequences of scientific progress.

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, J. Robert Oppenheimer 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.

The book follows 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.

The book follows him to Los Alamos, New Mexico, 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 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 is essential to our understanding of our recent past—and of our choices for the future.

Praise

“[A] stunning blockbuster…[from] two accomplished Cold War historians.” Foreign Affairs

“A masterpiece of scholarship and riveting writing.” Chicago Tribune

“The definitive biography…Oppenheimer’s life doesn’t influence us. It haunts us.” Newsweek

“Stands as an Everest among the mountains of books on the bomb project and Oppenheimer and is an achievement not likely to be surpassed or equaled.” Boston Globe

“A work of voluminous scholarship and lucid insight, unifying its multifaceted portrait with a keen grasp of Oppenheimer’s essential nature.” New York Times

“Superb…A vivid portrait is painted of a charismatic, immensely human theoretical physicist.” Miami Herald

“A masterful account…A tour de force.” Los Angeles Times Book Review

“The book’s scope transcends the usual bounds of biography and illuminates a critical time in American history.” Bookmarks 

“[A] profoundly fascinating, richly complex, and ineffably sad American life…Bird and Sherwin are without peer…in capturing the humanity of the man.” Booklist (starred review)

“Oppenheimer’s triumphs and trials show how public policy, scientific genius, and private character become interwoven.” Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author

+ More
Details
More Information
Language English
Release Day Dec 31, 2005
Release Date January 1, 2006
Release Date Machine 1136073600
Imprint Blackstone Publishing
Provider Blackstone Publishing
Categories Pulitzers Prize Winners, Biographies & Memoirs, History, Military, Professionals & Academics, Science & Engineering, Science, Historical, Most Popular, Most Popular, Nonfiction - Adult, Nonfiction - All
Author Bio
Kai Bird

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

Martin J. Sherwin

Martin J. Sherwin, George Mason University professor of history, is the author of A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and Its Legacies, winner of the Stuart L. Bernath and the American History Book prizes, and the coauthor, with Kai Bird, of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2006.

Narrator Bio
Jeff Cummings

Jeff Cummings, as an audiobook narrator, has won both an Earphones Award and the prestigious Audie Award in 2015 for Best Narration in Science and Technology. He is also a twenty-year veteran of the stage, having worked at many regional theaters across the country, from A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle and the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta to the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City and the International Mystery Writers’ Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky. He also spent seven seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Overview

Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Winner of the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography
Winner of the 2006 Ambassador Book Award for Biography/Autobiography
A #1 New York Times bestseller
A #1 New York Times Bestseller in Audio
A USA Today bestseller 
An Audible.com bestseller
A #1 Amazon bestseller in Audiobooks
A Barnes & Noble bestseller
A Time Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
A New York Times Notable Book
A Top 10 Bookstat Bestseller in Audiobooks
A Barnes & Noble Pick of This Week's Top 10 Most Popular Books
See All +

The inspiration for the major motion picture Oppenheimer, this is the definitive biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a brilliant physicist who led the effort to build the atomic bomb for his country in a time of war and who later found himself confronting the moral consequences of scientific progress.

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, J. Robert Oppenheimer 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.

The book follows 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.

The book follows him to Los Alamos, New Mexico, 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 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 is essential to our understanding of our recent past—and of our choices for the future.

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