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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: February 2011 ISBN: 9781455187508
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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.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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

  • “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.”

    Bookmarks 

  • 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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kyoungjin Lim | 1/21/2014

    " The book as thick and heavy and deep as Oppenheimer's life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alasdair | 1/15/2014

    " This was a fascinating read - a true tragedy of Lear proportions. The man himself was complex and clearly a towering figure of the 20th century and his story is captured and told brilliantly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Corynn | 1/15/2014

    " Bird and Sherwin don't flinch from the most uncomfortable details of Oppenheimer's professional life as an academic and scientist-statesman, until it read (to me) as a cautionary tale. Strong work. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peter | 1/11/2014

    " An excellent biography of "the father of the atomic bomb." Also serves as an instructive political history of the United States from the Depression to the early Cold War. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nathan | 12/19/2013

    " I enjoyed this book and certainly learned a lot about genius and what that means in relation to others and the world. It certainly leads to the question of genius and madness as two sides of the same coin. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gregg | 11/9/2013

    " couldn't finish it. read well over 400pp and was bored silly. "comprehensive" doesn't necessarily mean entertaining. avoid it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 8/22/2013

    " FBI wiretaps, pillorying dissenters against the nation's rising militarism, and personal vendettas made political? Some things just don't change. Definitely a solid read for anyone interested in the science and politics of nuclear weapons. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jackson | 5/28/2013

    " An excellent portrayal of the father of the atomic bomb, both his rise to success and his fall from it. It weaves together his story with the disturbing story of 1940s and 50s America and the Red Scare that dominated the political landscape. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 MJ | 3/14/2013

    " This was a fascinating 600 page biography of a man and the times in which he lived. he was both brilliant and flawed, but what a mind! He made a Faustian deal and paid dearly for it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ed | 11/29/2012

    " Fascinating individual "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gordon | 7/22/2012

    " The voluminous biography of the man who once said "I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds" "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Claire | 5/29/2012

    " I could not put it down. Excellent biography and important chronicle of our recent history. Moving. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 12/10/2011

    " A dense book packed with information about all of Oppenheimer's life. Fairly light on the science part, but lots of information about what happened before and after the bomb. Will be very helpful when teaching my unit on the atomic age. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael Lawson | 12/6/2011

    " This book was remarkably good. I owned it for years, and think I never picked it up because I was intimidated by the subject (and its number of pages). Really good, and a bit sad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 4/12/2011

    " I started listening to this book, then something went awry with the CDs so I set it aside until I could download it to my MP3. Have to get back to it. It's HUGE and well-researched and really interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jolynne | 2/26/2011

    " Great book offering a window not only into a brilliant mind but also into a pivotal time in history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne-marie | 2/23/2011

    " As with many biographies a fascinating insight into a part of history. As a mainly American history it covers science, WWI, WWII, Communism, McCarthyism, the development of the bomb, amongst many others. I did find it a little long and repetitive in sections but I'm glad I stuck with it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alasdair | 2/6/2011

    " This was a fascinating read - a true tragedy of Lear proportions. The man himself was complex and clearly a towering figure of the 20th century and his story is captured and told brilliantly. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gregg | 12/1/2010

    " couldn't finish it. read well over 400pp and was bored silly. "comprehensive" doesn't necessarily mean entertaining. avoid it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annie | 11/29/2010

    " So interesting! I could hardly put it down "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee | 11/25/2010

    " Revealing in terms of character and history. Not exactly a page-turner, but an interesting biography
    of a complex and impenetrable man. "

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