The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
A riveting account of one of history's most essential and paradoxical figures. -- Christopher Nolan Reads like a thriller, gripping and terrifying by turns... No more absorbing biography will, I predict, come out this year, nor, given the dangers we face, a more important one. -- John Carey * Sunday Times * I hate to say it, but, if you zip through all six hundred pages of the book before seeing the film, you'll enjoy the ride more. -- Anthony Lane * New Yorker * Fascinating... Enthralling... All previous works on the topic are, in the nicest possible sense, blown out of the sky by a book which is, in both the proper and metaphorical meanings, monumental. -- Mark Lawson * Esquire * No previous biography has... matched the power, range and lucidity of Martin Sherwin and Kai Bird's Life... Its combination of meticulous scholarship and felicitous prose grasps the drama of Oppenheimer's life in all its riveting complexity. * Sunday Telegraph * A giant among biographies, a life story that at times reads like a thriller but which is also deeply authoritative and persuasively informative.... Magisterial. * Observer * This is a magisterial biography: a masterpiece that has taken decades to put together. -- Kathryn Hughes * Mail on Sunday * A tremendous work of scholarship. * Financial Times * Dazzling... Rich in incident and enigma... It wears its scholarship lightly and whisks the reader through the story at thriller-like pace. * New Statesman * Magisterial... There have been many books on Oppenheimer... but American Prometheus is the first to attempt to explore more than a single facet... It is a portrait of the man, the times, the science, and the politics... It is a vaulting ambition, and it is amply rewarded. -- Judith Flanders * Spectator * The definitive biography... Oppenheimer's life doesn't influence us. It haunts us. * Newsweek * A work of voluminous scholarship and lucid insight, unifying its multifaceted portrait with a keen grasp of Oppenheimer's essential nature... It succeeds in deeply fathoming his most damaging, self-contradictory behavior. * New York Times * A masterful account of Oppenheimer's rise and fall, set in the context of the turbulent decades of America's own transformation. It is a tour de force. * Los Angeles Times Book Review * There have been numerous books about Oppenheimer but they can't touch this extraordinary book's impressive breadth and scope. * Miami Herald * The first biography to give full due to Oppenheimer's extraordinary complexity... 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 *
Kai Bird is a contributing editor at The Nation and the author of several biographies, including The Chairman, The Color of Truth, The Good Spy and The Outlier. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Writing Fellowship. Martin J. Sherwin was a Professor of History at George Mason University. His other books include A World Destroyed, winner of the Stuart L. Bernath and the American History Book prizes, and Gambling with Armageddon.
1: "He Received Every New Idea as Perfectly Beautiful" 2: "His Separate Prison" 3: "I Am Having a Pretty Bad Time" 4: "I Find Work Hard, Thank God, & Almost Pleasant" 5: "I Am Oppenheimer" 6: "Oppie" 7: "The Nim Nim Boys" 8: "In 1936 My Interests Began to Change" 9: "[Frank] Clipped It Out and Sent it In" 10: "More and More Surely" 11: "I'm Going to Marry a Friend of Yours, Steve" 12: "We Were Pulling the New Deal to the Left" 13: "The Coordinator of Rapid Rupture" 14: "The Chevalier Affair" 15: "He'd Become Very Patriotic" 16: "Too Much Secrecy" 17: "Oppenheimer Is Telling the Truth" 18: "Suicide, Motive Unknown" 19: "Would You Like to Adopt Her?" 20: Bohr Was God, and Oppie Was His Prophet" 21: "The Impact of the Gadget on Civilization" 22: "Now We're All Sons-of-Bitches" 23: "Those Poor Little People" 24: "I Feel I Have Blood on My Hands" 25: "People Could Destroy New York" 26: "Oppie Had a Rash and Is Now Immune" 27: "An Intellectual Hotel" 28: "He Couldn't Understand Why He Did It" 29: "I Am Sure That Is Why She Threw Things at Him" 30: "He Never Let On What His Opinion Was" 31: "Dark Words About Oppie" 32: "Scientist X" 33: "The Beast in the Jungle" 34: "It Looks Pretty Bad, Doesn't It?" 35: "I Fear That This Whole Thing Is a Piece of Idiocy" 36: "A Manifestation of Hysteria" 37: "A Black Mark on the Escutcheon of Our Country" 38: "I Can Still Feel the Warm Blood on My Hands" 39: "It Was Really Like a Never-Never-Land" 40: "It Should Have Been Done the Day After Trinity" Epilogue: "There's Only One Robert"