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Extended Audio Sample Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center, by Ray Monk Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ray Monk Narrator: Michael Goldstrom Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Robert Oppenheimer was among the most brilliant and divisive of men. As head of the Los Alamos Laboratory, he oversaw the successful effort to beat the Nazis in the race to develop the first atomic bomb—a breakthrough that was to have eternal ramifications for mankind and that made Oppenheimer the “father of the atomic bomb.” But with his actions leading up to that great achievement, he also set himself on a dangerous collision course with Senator Joseph McCarthy and his witch-hunters. In Robert Oppenheimer, Ray Monk, author of peerless biographies of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, goes deeper than any previous biographer in the quest to solve the enigma of Oppenheimer’s motivations and his complex personality.

The son of German-Jewish immigrants, Oppenheimer was a man of phenomenal intellectual attributes, driven by an ambition to overcome his status as an outsider and penetrate the heart of political and social life. As a young scientist, his talent and drive allowed him to enter a community peopled by the great names of twentieth-century physics—men such as Niels Bohr, Max Born, Paul Dirac, and Albert Einstein—and to play a role in the laboratories and classrooms where the world was being changed forever, where the secrets of the universe, whether within atomic nuclei or collapsing stars, revealed themselves.

But Oppenheimer’s path went beyond one of assimilation, scientific success, and world fame. The implications of the discoveries at Los Alamos weighed heavily upon this fragile and complicated man. In the 1930s, in a climate already thick with paranoia and espionage, he made suspicious connections, and in the wake of the Allied victory, his attempts to resist the escalation of the Cold War arms race led many to question his loyalties.

Through compassionate investigation and with towering scholarship, Ray Monk’s Robert Oppenheimer tells an unforgettable story of discovery, secrecy, impossible choices, and unimaginable destruction.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It’s not just brilliant, original, and the best biography of Oppenheimer to date, it’s epic…Totally gripping and immensely satisfying.”  

    Sylvia Nasar, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Judicious, comprehensive, and reliable…By far the most thorough survey yet written of Oppenheimer’s physics…A convincing portrait.”

    Washington Post

  • “Impressive…An extraordinary story, and Monk…tells it well.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Oppenheimer is fortunate to have been given such an exemplary biographer.”

    New Scientist

  • “A tour de force…[it] will establish itself as the definitive biography.”

    Financial Times

  • “Compelling.”

    New Yorker

  • “Essential reading for Oppie enthusiasts, even those who don’t know a meson from a cosmic ray (and don’t much care).”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “An enigma to many of his contemporaries, Oppenheimer made enemies as easily as friends. Monk is at his best when teasing apart Oppenheimer’s confusing inner life, finding in his ‘enigmatic elusiveness’ and ‘his inability to make ordinary close contact’ with others the source of his acknowledged genius in leading the Manhattan Project.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “[The book paints] a detailed picture of two groups of people who played an important role in Oppenheimer’s life: the tightly knit society of wealthy German New York Jews to which his parents belonged and the small army of security officers who monitored his social and political activities when he was engaged in secret work in Berkeley and Los Alamos…Monk brings these two groups vividly to life.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “Oppenheimer alone is a fascinating subject, but Monk provides copious illuminating detail from the historical surround…[A] superb biography.”

    London Review of Books

  • “An extraordinarily rich biography, superbly researched and written with impressive clarity. It is a considerable achievement of scholarship.”

    Times (London)

  • “[Monk’s] eight hundred pages of deep research and lucid prose constitute a masterclass in how biography, done well, gets us closer to the mindset of an age than any other kind of inquiry.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “[Robert Oppenheimer] is not just a great biography but a powerful work of art.”

    New Statesman

  • “In this deeply humanizing biography…Monk delves deeper than any predecessor into Oppenheimer’s inner life, not his historical or political circumstances….Perceptive and detailed, this portrait illuminates a potent but complex mind.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “A highly detailed examination of the life and times of Robert Oppenheimer…a top-notch biography.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Michael Goldstrom offers an easy-to-listen-to narration. His voice is steady without being monotonous, and he eschews the kind of vocal drama that would quickly become tiring in a work this long. He handles foreign phrases and names with ease. But he can’t overcome the preponderance of detail. Listeners who persevere will be rewarded with a rich portrait well read.”

    AudioFile 

  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2013 in Nonfiction
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About the Author

Ray Monk is the author of Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius, for which he was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize, and a two-volume biography of Bertrand Russell. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of Southampton.