Oppenheimer, more than any other scientist alive or dead, is the embodiment of modern scientific man confronting inadequately what science can produce. His story, told here in its entirety for the first time, is one of extraordinary scientific success, wedded to disheartening political failure, followed by redemption both personal and political. It is the story of the son of Jewish immigrants, who was raised in the comfortably well-off style his parents had achieved. At Harvard he studied theoretical physics as well as humanities he did graduate work at Cambridge and in Germany, where he earned a Ph.D. under Max Born and met many of the leading theoretical physicists of the time. Here, is the always exciting tale of the race to split the atom, with the charismatic Oppie at the centre of an amazing array of scientists, keeping them focused, keeping the Army's intelligence forces and the FBI at bay long eugh to get the job done. And here, too, is the difficult decision to drop the bomb and the growing post-war debate on how to stop an arms race that culminated in the famous Security Hearing of 1954. A world-scale biography, filled with oversized characters and events that still determine our lives, told in a readable and compelling fashion.
Kai Bird, a journalist and independent scholar, is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Martin J. Sherwin is Professor of History at Tufts University, where he founded and directed the Nuclear Age History and Humanity Centre.