Kai Bird: American Prometheus The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer



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J Robert Oppenheimer is called the father of the atomic bomb which is a shorthand way of saying that we know e did something important as the scientific director of the Manhattan Project but we just aren t sure what that was What I mean is that Oppenheimer never made a great discovery or proposed a great theory He wasn t Rutherford explaining the atom s nucleus He wasn t Bohr modeling the atom He wasn t Lawrence inventing the cyclotron to smash atoms And Dangerous Heat he wasn t Fermi developing the nuclear reactor Oppenheimer was a synthesizer an understander and an explainer His genius ande was a genius was to know what all these other geniuses were talking about and to be able to put all these different discoveries together to create something good Or in this case the atomic bomb American Prometheus is a Birds, Beasts, and Bandits hefty biography of this enigmatic brilliant flawed man The dual authors Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin spent a great deal of time on this book and it shows Along with an impressive bibliography theyave conducted personal interviews with key players The fact that some of these interviews date to the seventies show that the authors ave been at work on this project for a long time much longer in fact than it took for Los Alamos team to churn out a nuclear weapon The fact that these guys worked so long is a pretty good indication that they are fans of J Robert This is also obvious from the title an allusion to the Titan who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the mortals For this crime Prometheus was punished During the day e was chained to a rock and ad is liver eaten by an eagle During the night The Man in the High Castle his liver regenerated and was eaten again the next dayOppenheimer makes for a great character and in a way the allusion to Greek mythology is apt and something Oppenheimerimself would Essays from the Visit of Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas to Heidelberg have enjoyed He was brilliant and not just in the sciences His interests andis intellect encompassed poetry philosophy A Taste of Darkness (Mackenzie Vampires history and languages The problemowever was that In Darkest London he knewis own intelligence but not its limits This made Naturalistless him overbearing brusue impatient condescending and inflexible These traits tragic flaws if you will lead tois downfall at the The MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook: Recipes and Techniques for Every Hunter and Angler hands ofis Red baiting fellow scientist Lewis Strauss American Prometheus is a fine book Just fine It is packed full of information It is well sourced It gives the whole sweep of Oppenheimer s life And not just the science The book gets right into the messy details the rampant adultery the alcoholic wife the political tone deafness Babys Mealtime his callous willingness to name names oncee became famous and The Miracle Equation his final passive surrender tois enemies Still I didn t love this book I didn t even like it very much My criticisms I suppose can be traced to the subtitle the triumph and the tragedy Oppenheimer s triumph was The Dawn of Modern Thought his role in birthing the atomic bomb The problem though is that I can t figure out whate did The book is full of people telling me The Infamous Ellen James (Infamous, how greate was and Samael Aun Weor, The Absolute Man how the project couldn tave succeeded without Dragonfrigate Wizard Halcyon Blithe (Halcyon Blithe, him but this is a case of telling not showing In fact I felt the Los Alamos portions of the book which shouldave been the most important were disorganized and confusing I think the problem stems from a lack of context Now don t get me wrong I Satria dari Negeri Tayli 1-28 hate physics Indeed I dislike even simple arithmetic with great passion However the science is important to this story and it s just missing from the book The authors break down Oppenheimer s field of uantum physics in one or two un illuminating sentences The achievements of the other scientists are barely mentioned if they re mentioned at all If I were to read just this book I wouldave no idea about the process it took to create the atomic bomb Thankfully I Goethean Science have read Richard Rhodes masterful The Making of the Atomic Bomb Despite the odd semi creepy title this is a remarkable book that combines wonderfully understandable science writing with an elouent vivid narrative Once the bomb is dropped the story moves onto the guilt of the scientists I wouldn t like this part no matterow well it was written The scientists who worked on the bomb then opposed its use Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! have always come across as myopic babies They jumpedeadfirst into a program to create a super bomb and then reacted with shock shock that it might be dropped on people Hey geniuses way to think ahead Their shifting morality is a combination of Digital Crossroads hypocrisy and shame intended toide their earlier craven desire to see if the damn thing would work Take a stand and stick with it I don t really care for Edward Teller and is disturbing ruminations on a bomb that could destroy the whole world but at least e was intellectually consistent and consistently crazy Oppenheimer was at the vanguard of scientists who wanted to be open with the Soviet Union about nuclear arms thereby The Einstein Theory of Relativity hoping to forestall an arms race Maybe this was naive Maybe this mightave worked In any event it s not the kind of position to How to Negotiate Your First Job have if you were ever part of the Communist movement By this time though Oppenheimer s egoad inflated to the point where e thought e was untouchable He went around preaching candor while also Perfect Justice (Ben Kencaid, holding a top secret security clearance as a consultant to the Atomic Energy Commission This proved a mistake especially while Senator Joseph McCarthy wasolding office Eventually Lewis Strauss orchestrated a kangaroo court The Literary Relationship of Lord Byron and Thomas Moore hearing in which Oppenheimer was stripped ofis security clearance Hence the tragedy of the subtitleThis period of American Suggestions for Marketing Small Timber history always gets me fiercely agitated and there are fewistorical figures I New Exploration hate as much as Joe McCarthy It just boggles my mind McCarthy andis The Shaping of Western Civilization henchman Richard Nixon among them essentially managed to outlaw liberalism Anyone who supported unions or segregation or eual pay for women couldave their lives destroyed by the flabby red faced alcoholic senator from WisconsinThose who dare side with McCarthy ave always pointed out the fact that the Communist Party ad a revolutionary ethos The problem with this argument though is that there is a line between literally overthrowing a democratically elected government by force of arms and overthrowing the government democratically which pretty much The Ecology, Exploitation and Conservation of River Turtles happened a couple weeks ago in Massachusetts McCarthy and Nixon weren t really interested in protecting America They were interested in protecting themselves and their positions in government And what better way to do this than make your ideological opponents criminals Thus Oppenheimer who at worst was a New Dealer couldave Medicine and Religion his reputation damaged andis future in government destroyed The Red Scare was a farce and if there was any justice at all it was that McCarthy was eventually shunned and died a disgraced drunk at the age of 48 That rant aside the tragedy of Oppenheimer didn t seem all that terrible It felt in fact uite overblown by the authors So The Hockey Saint (Forever Friends, he lostis security clearance Big deal He knew this going into the commission and could Valentino have avoided the whole sham trial In fact Einstein advisedim to do this and Oppenheimer wouldn t listen The lesson ere take Einstein s advice Einstein After losing is clearance Oppenheimer still ad is wealth Craving (Willow Creek, his family the ability to travel the world and a beach sideouse in the Virgin Islands I m not exactly weeping for Oba, the Last Samurai his post revocation life More important to my overall enjoyment of this book was the fact I never really felt connected This is of a personal ephemeral observation in the sense that I can t really explain it Certain biographies written by the likes of Caro Massey and Morrisave touched me profoundly so that I feel a shiver of sadness as the subject reaches Yonen Buzz, Volume 1 (Yonen Buzz, his final days The best biographies can evoke a response startlingly close to empathy Even the greatest of men or women can be dramaticallyumanized brought to life made relatable so that you understand them as persons rather than abstract movers of the levers of istory American Prometheus didn t provoke that response from me That doesn t mean that this isn t a igh class biography because it is Most people would probably read this book and disagree with my assessment Indeed there is a bronzed circle on the cover of my book which informs me that the National Book Critics Circle thinks I m an idiot This is a very thorough book in some respects and yet it is so narrow in scope I almost want to run out and read another Oppenheimer biography and some The Wood Demon histories that cover the same time period to get the personal details and backgroundistory the authors assumed you knew in THIS book AlmostSure I m familiar with the basic details of WWII the McCarthy Era and the atomic bomb but if I wasn t this book wouldn t First Shapes haveelped much Instead the authors follow J Robert Oppenheimer s life in detail from birth to death with a laser s focus on every political relationship and communist connection Dispatches from Dystopia he everad so much so everything else. J Robert Oppenheimer is one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century a brilliant physicist who led the effort to build the atomic bomb for is country in a time of war and who later.

Is in soft focus The book becomes at times a laundry list of names connected to their political affiliations and possible communist leanings Even Robert imself is given short shrift to the communist uestion Every possible Communist connection is examined and re examined so often I felt like the authors Ancient World had in effect become Oppenheimer s belated defense team Why did they feel Oppenheimer needed defending you may be asking Wasn te a brilliant physicist the one who Fighter headed the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb Yese certainly was Everyone in the scientific community was concerned that Germany was developing a bomb including Oppenheimer who was especially appalled over what was Събрани разкази, Том 5 happening in fascist Germany andorrified about what was being done to the Jews He was eager to use The Real James Herriot his scientific skills in service ofis country But the power of the bomb that was developed filled Waterloo (Sharpe, him with concern especially after seeing it used against a Japan that was essentially already defeatedOppenheimer felt that the use of such weapons should be regulated not just by the US and that secrecy would lead to an arms race with the Soviet Union ande was right But Cinderella his advocacy for free sharing of information and an international committee to guide the use of atomic power was not what the US government wanted toear in the 50s His opposition to the development of the H bomb opened คนรวมวิญญาณ 1 โรงเรียนติววิญญาณ him up to suspicion ande was investigated by the FBI including the illegal wiretapping of is phonesOppenheimer ad been working as a professor at Berkeley before the war and as a liberal thinker e ad Lionboy (Lionboy Trilogy, had friends and family who were Communist back when that meant opposition to the fascist regime in Spain and improving social conditions atome He Halt v nebezpečí (Hraničářův učeň, had donated money to various causes through the US Communist party which wasn t unusual for the time His own brother andis wife ad been members of the Communist party at one time although Robert imself never Phoenix (Black City, had been All of these connections were used againstim by What The Queen Wills (Sexy Reversed Fairy Tales his opponents many years later inearings in the 50sEverything in the book leads up to Oppenheimer s BabyCakes Covers the Classics hearings before the Personnel Security Board team put together by General Lewis Strauss who was determined to both remove Oppenheimer from the Atomic Energy Commission and removeis security clearance Strauss Saul Bellow had clashed with Oppenheimer over the development of the H bomb andad developed a personal antipathy to the scientist With the tacit consent of President Eisenhower Strauss set up a star chamber The Ground Beneath Her Feet hearing to railroad Oppenheimer out using unfair tactics such as denying access to evidence and not releasing the list of witnesses to Oppenheimer s lawyers ahead of time Oppenheimer became seen as a Galileo type martyr to the scientific community and thoughe was eventually rehabilitated and Oh My Gods! honored by President Johnson Oppenheimer never truly recovered from theearingsAll of this part of Oppenheimer s life we get in exhaustive detail What you won t learn so much about is Oppenheimer s personal life which is present in the book but not examined Oppenheimer Frogs French Kisses (Magic in Manhattan, had a magnetic personality and many relationships with women that weear just a little about He Artful had affairs even afteris marriage to Kitty whose previous usband was a Communist who ad died fighting in the Spanish Civil War I wanted to know about is relationship with Kitty a tempestuous woman with a big drinking problem We ear that the Oppenheimers gave parties where they lavished their guests with drinks but then skimped on the food That s fascinating I wanted to know about what was going on there and عصير الرماد hear what people thought about it I wanted to know aboutis children and Of Blood and Bone (Chronicles of the One, how they felt being raised in such a family We get tantalizing bits and pieces aboutow Robert tried to give The Legacy (The Restoration Series, his daughter away to another family at Los Alamos and never bonded withis son but then we are torn away to Perpetual Power (The Tressa Tremaine Series Book 1) hear again about Communist stuff Can youear my frustration Sure I figure there is WAY documentation out there on the Communist issue thanks to the FBI than to Oppenheimer s personal life and that s what the authors focused on They do a good job of presenting this information chronologically and clearly and if that s what you re interested in you won t be disappointed You will get every detail you could ever Celine hope for But if you want to know Oppenheimer the man you will only get glimpsesere Personally all that I new about J Robert Oppenheimer was Charmed (The Donovan Legacy, his time during Project Manhattan and a few details aboutis show trial in 1954 This book managed to bring a lot context to these events and show me as close it is possible the real Oppenheimer What else can I say this is probably the best biography of J Robert Oppenheimer there is and together with Richard Rhodes Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun makes the penultimate atomic trilogy I thought this was fascinating J Robert Oppenheimer Ballet Shoes had a uniue upbringing I found very interesting He grew up in a nonobservant Jewish family and completed grade school in a private institution called The Ethical Cultural Society This was a Judaic reformist school where students were taught Ethical Imagination to see things not as they are but as they might be pg 19Oppenheimer describedis childhood My life as a child did not prepare me for the fact that the world is full of cruel and bitter things pg 21 He was described as odd neurotic and depressed by is university classmates He eventually ad a breakdown where e attacked a classmate pg 47 His poor The trouble with Oppenheimer is that e loves a woman who doesn t love Cheri Red him the United States government Albert Einstein uoted in American PrometheusThere is way too exploding in myead after reading this tonight to write a full and even meaningful review I ve always been fascinated with the Manhattan Project and last year read Rhode s amazing book The Making of the Atomic Bomb I ve also read several of Richard Feynman s memoirs that detail aspects of Discovering Your Heart With The Flag Page his work and stories but thisas been the fullest investigation I ve read into Oppenheimer s life Things I ll probably write a bit about tomorrow1 Oppenheimer and Modern Physicists as founding father s of the modern age2 The show trials of the AEC3 Disappointment in Bernard Baruch Teller American Institutions and even Oppenheimer3 Current atmosphere of suspicion of Science4 Current atmosphere of extreme vetting and loyalty tests5 Other Myths for Oppenheimer Pandora s Box or Flying too close to the Sun It was an interesting read and an interesting life though during the course of it I realised that Oppenheimer didn t appeal to me at all as a personThe background is interesting particularly the role of Communism in the USA during the Popular Front period of opposition to Fascism before WWII and Kingdom of Ashes (Nightfall, how that then panned out in the 1950s ie whatad been permissible came to be viewed as criminal even treacherous Purely as a result of this Oppenheimer s younger brother ended up effectively in a form of internal exile in the USA unable to work at all in physicsOppenheimer emerges as a competitive ambitious figure who was perfectly willing to overlook any moral scruples to Websters Ii Dictionary, Third Edition, Office Edition have the atomic bomb constructed and then tested Particularly interesting wasow the team involved in developing the Atom bomb campaigned to Aladdin have two Japanese target towns reserved for them to test the bomb out on there s a discussion of the cost effectiveness of the development of the atomic bomb over investment in conventional weaponry in The Shock of the Old that is worth looking at in this context view spoiler broadly arguing that the decision to develop an atomic weapon lengthened the duration of the war by diverting resources away from producing conventional weaponside spoiler Let s do the numbers599 pages of text256 books read for research44 articles and dissertations consulted41 manuscript collections pillaged10 government document collections accessed 1 Pulitzer Prize6 newspapersmagazines named it best book of the year19 uality blurbs41 listed abbreviations20 page long index83 pages of notes 112 people interviewed several than once2 authors25 years in the making38 days to read across 3 cities23 corners folded by this girl to mark something fascinatingTo describe this book as merely well researched would be an insult It is an exhaustively thorough look at an important American figurethat I Daddy Must Die had nevereard of when my dad gave this book to me as a Christmas gift several years ago I The Message Glorious had a vague notion that J Robert Oppenheimer was in the newspaper business Oppie as I now refer toim was a brilliant physicist and character who O Cérebro de Broca headed the American development of the atomic bomb during WWII only to be stripped ofis security clearance years later for petty political reasons When I finished this book I was all Oppie said the cleverest thing Found imself confronting the moral conseuences of scientific progress In this magisterial acclaimed biography twenty five years in the making Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin capture Oppenheim.

Bout insert topic and Oppie would ave loved this documentarybookcolor shirt I swear I was that annoying person who just achieved a likely one sided friendship with someone much cooler and can t shut up about it What exactly can you expect to learn about MY NEW BESTIE in this book 1 Speculation about whether Oppie was a closet CommunistThere are paragraphs pages and chapters playing the was Breaking The Curse (Sexy Reversed Fairy Tales he or wasn te game What exactly did A Banquet of Consequences (Inspector Lynley, he learn at that wacko school as a youngster Dide pay party dues Why didn t ROMANTIC TAKEOVER he report that conversation earlier Why dide meet with that person on that day The only person who really ad the answer to the main uestion is Oppie and e said no Repeatedly This speculation may sound boring and it was at times but it was integral to the story as it later brought down a man who Keeper of the Light had devotedis life to doing what Shattered Spear (The Lost Stars, he thought was best for this country2 Luminaries of the dayAs brilliant as Oppie wase was also surrounded by brilliant people After nearly every description of is physicist buddies there was a note that so and so went on to receive the Nobel Prize You will also learn about key political and military figures of the day And for all these people you will get than just a rehashing of their image You ll get a uick glimpse of their personality weakness opinions antics This book breathes with characters 3 A critical era of American istoryThe authors evoked not just the people but also stepped back and evoked the times starting with the rush to develop the atomic bomb before the Germans The Women of Easter hurryurry Why Are You So Scared? hurry and then the debate that followed Hiroshima was that really necessary what now build another It was a dicey time for America and the world Iad learned some of this during my undergraduate but this book bought it The Power of One home for me 4 Absolutely nothing about scienceIf you are curious regarding the specifics ofow the bomb was built or the physics behind it you will be sorely disappointed while I was greatly pleased5 His wifeI The Wolf Gift (The Wolf Gift Chronicles, have become increasingly interested in the stories of the women behind important menow they He Who Dares helped made their men great and evenow they suffered for it For example I remember walking through a museum about Einstein a couple years ago and thinking The Thing About December his wife deserved a medal bucket of tearser own museum something for the crap she put up with And Oppie s wife Kitty was similarly intriguing Here is a brief review of Os Peixes Também Sabem Cantar her count em four marriagesHusband 1 Why you should read your spouse s diaryWhen Kitty was studying aboard in Europe she impulsively married a musician only to discover when she snooped inis diary that t he was a gay drug addict Strike oneHusband 2 Voluntary poverty followed by voluntary deathKitty bounced back uickly and married aandsome American activist Although both came from well to do families they chose to live in poverty to show their commitment to Communist ideals Kitty eventually got fed up with lifestyle and walked away The two were just starting to rekindle their love when e was killed fighting in the Spanish Civil War on the side of you guessed it the leftistsHusband 3 This is Robert calling Your wife is pregnant with my child Kitty s next pick was an emotionally distant doctor It was during this marriage that Kitty met Oppie and started some extramarital anky panky When she discovered she was pregnant with Oppie s child Husband 3 and Oppie Stand Up and Fight had a very civilized phone conversation where they decided it would be best if Kitty divorced one and married the other I really wish the FBIad wire tapped that call What kind of usband can calmly discuss is wife s infidelity with Now Is the Hour her lover He mustave been cold as a block of ice Husband 4 Loved by Oppie Londons Glory (Bryant May, hated by everyone elseAfter all the duds Oppie was the one The general consensus was that Oppie s wife was a rudeabitually tipsy and mediocre Jingle Bells housewife as well as a cold mother Her one redeeming uality waser fierce loyalty to Oppie and is career Yet she seemed frustrated in is shadows Troys having given uper burgeoning career in botany for Knights Templar in Britain his sake My favorite uote about Kitty was that she made small talk but she really wanted to make big talk Whew I don t know about you but Kitty wears me out And since she is not likeable enough to be the subject ofer own biography I am glad these authors gave Reign of Fury (Battles in the Dark, her such good coverageere As many anecdotes that made me sympathize with Nature Cure her there were just as many times when I wanted to reach back in time and shakeerThat s enough about Kitty It s not often that I The Bookshop on the Corner have a picture of myself reading the book I m reviewing But today is your lucky day In a scene that is probably familiar to GoodReadersere I am reading my book off in a corner during a family get together image error Impressive biography of J Robert Oppenheimer the nuclear physicist who went from obscurity to international fame as the director of th I am in the middle of moving from one country to another so I just do not The Fixer (The Fixer, have the time to write a decent review of this excellent marvelous book Please if you are at all interested in eitheristory or amazing people grab this book soon On closing this book the reader truly understands the atmosphere that swallowed up America during the era of McCarthyism and the Cold War The reader comes to understand Oppenheimer One of Your Own his creativityis imagination and Nina his failings too The list of the latter is long but boy do I admire the guy There is so much I could tell you about this man who I knew nothing about before I read this book exceptis label as the Father of the Atomic BombI don t regret reading Bomb The Race to Build and Steal the World s Most Dangerous Weapon but the two don t compare You in no way need to read one to read the other The first is about the bomb the Manhattan project and spying but this about Oppenheimer is about the person and Super Gran (Super Gran, his eraI listened to the audiobook read by Jeff Cummings Iave no complaints with the narration Read the book or listen to it You choose which ever suits you best Just don t add it to one of those never ending lists of books that you don t get around to actually reading American Prometheus The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer was the Pulitzer prize winning book in 2006 This was a comprehensive biography of J Robert Oppenheimer and the birth of Los Alamos and the atomic bomb devised to bring the end to World War II with the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki The irony of this book may be that Oppenheimer as a young man came to New Mexico finding not only Jay McGraws Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies himself but thate loved this beautiful country Many years later I think that a regret that e ad was bringing the attention of the world to northern New Mexico Shadowspell Academy he craved the exhilaration and the invigorating calmness induced by Perro Caliente There was a rhythm now tois life intense intellectual work at times to the point of near exhaustion followed by a month or of near exhaustion followed by a month or of renewal on Anna Del Contes Italian Kitchen horseback in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico We learned to watch the snow on the Sangres and to look for deer in Water Canyon Phil Morrison later wrote with a lyricism that reflected the emotional attachment to the land that seized many residents We found that on the mesas and the valley that there was an old and strange culture there were our neighbors the people of the pueblos and there were the caves of Otowi canyon to remind us that other menad sought water in the dry landHaving spent my early childhood in Los Alamos I am still very conflicted about that time in our Dead Center history Oppenheimer was not only the choice of General Groves but also the one who was able to assemble a group of physicists and scientists to come to a remote part of the United States and pioneer this daunting project Much of the genius of Oppenheimer wasis uncanny ability to ferret out the best talent and to relentlessly pursue that talent and to motivate and inspire them However the underlying and dark theme throughout this book was the Murder Moonflowers (The Herbalist hysteria that was rampant in the 1950 s about communismThis is also a tale of a very complex man not only a brilliant scientist and leader and a true twentieth century Renaissance Man but one who was devastated with theuman toll that was wrought with the unleashing of the science that e ad shepherded This was a man who was well versed in Shakespeare and The Bhagavad Gita who spent many years urging nuclear arms control Today that pride must be tempered with a profound concern If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of a warring world or to the arsenals of nations preparing for war then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and Hiroshima J Robert Oppenheimer on October 16 1946 We may be likened to two scorpions in a bottle each capable of killing the other but only at the risk of Exploring Limits (Exploring Limits, his own life J Robert Oppenheimer 195. Er’s life and times fromis early career to The Herbalist (The Herbalist his central role in the Cold War This is biography andistory at its finest riveting and deeply informative From the Trade Paperback edition.

Kai Bird is an American Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist best known for his biographies of political figures He has also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography the Duff Cooper Prize a Woodrow Wilson Center Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship He is a Contributing Editor of The Nation magazineBird was born in 1951 His father was a US Foreign Service officer