American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin is a biography of the famous scientist, “father of the atomic bomb”. The authors won the Pulitzer Prize for this book.
- 721 pages
- Publisher : Knopf
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 0375412026
I wanted to read this book for a long time, but after watching Christopher Nolan’s biopic, it made it to the top of the list. If you didn’t read the book, I found that watching the movie, then reading the book, then watching the movie once more (hopefully with subtitles) helped me understand the complex nuances of the time.
American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin is an exceptional biography which manages to weave politics, science, and humanity into an engaging story which changed the world we live in. the book skips, wisely I think, on the overly detailed technical aspects of building the atomic bomb, in favor of life in Los Alamos, and Oppenheimer’s role in it.
The book establishes Oppenheimer as a charismatic intellectual whose speaking and administrative ability led him to great success. Oppenheimer also had the curiosity to look at other subjects that had nothing to do with physics, learn, troubleshoot, or just for his own knowledge.
Much like Walter Issacson’s excellent biography of Einstein, this book is not about physics, but captures the world in which Oppenheimer lived in. The authors allow the readers to understand why he was selected to lead the Manhattan Project, his leadership and organizational capabilities, charisma, and occasional cruelty.
The book is charming on the surface but has dark undertones which are difficult to miss. At times it could be overwhelmingly detailed, however it does provide an understanding of a complex man and the company he kept.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I bought this book.
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