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

Extended Audio Sample American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Kai Bird Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,921 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin Narrator: Jeff Cummings Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 his country in a time of war and who later found himself confronting the moral consequences of scientific progress.

When he proposed international controls over atomic materials, opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb, and criticized plans for a nuclear war, his ideas were anathema to powerful advocates of a massive nuclear buildup during the anti-Communist hysteria of the early 1950s. They declared that Oppenheimer could not be trusted with America’s nuclear secrets.

In this magisterial biography twenty-five years in the making, which won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for biography, the authors capture Oppenheimer’s life and times, from his early career to his central role in the Cold War.

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Quotes & Awards

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


  • “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

  • “This commanding biography, the result of twenty-five years of research, reëvaluates that character, and delivers the most complex portrait of Oppenheimer to date…Drawing on thousands of pages of FBI surveillance records, the authors contend that the scientist was never a member of the Communist Party.”

    New Yorker

  • “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

  • “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

  • “[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)

  • “The book’s scope transcends the usual bounds of biography and illuminates a critical time in American history, with important implications for our present and future.”


  • 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 2005 Time Magazine Top 10 Book
  • A 2005 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2005 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Joseph | 2/16/2014

    " This was a very interesting book with a lot of nice detail on the life of Oppenheimer. If I have any complaint it is that it was written from a particular point of view regarding the Cold War and the associated nuclear arms race between the United States and the [former] Soviet Union. It supposes a unrealistic alternate history in which, right after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the United States and the Soviet Union would have agreed to international control of nuclear weapons, in fact of all nuclear technology. When one hear all the conspiracy theories from people in the United Sates about the United Nations the idea that that idea could have been sold to the American people when we were dealing with Stalin's U.S.S.R. is a fairy tale. Same for the idea that Stalin would ever have been willing to open Russian society to international influence. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by John E | 2/6/2014

    " Spectacular biography. Rather depressing however, since one knows the ending it appears to be a long discussion of just how things can go wrong for all the wrong reasons. The nastiness of those in power can be overwhelming and the pettiness of some of our "leaders" is distressing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jonathan Chan | 1/30/2014

    " Actually brought me near tears at certain points. Deep research and (pretty) lucid writing combines stories of science, the Cold War and nuclear disarmament in one captivating (tragic) epic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Margy | 1/30/2014

    " Some parts are absolutely fascinating and detailed to the extreme. But his politics and connection ( or not) to the Communist Party went on and on. Iost interest during those sections. Writing style is excellent. "

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