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American Prometheus Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2006

National Book Critics Circle Award, Biography, 2006

J. Robert Oppenheimer is one of the iconic figures of the 20th 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, 25 years in the making, the authors capture Oppenheimer's life and times, from his early career to his central role in the Cold War.

©2005 Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The definitive biography...Oppenheimer's life doesn't influence us. It haunts us." (Newsweek)

"[A] profoundly fascinating, richly complex, and ineffably sad American life.... Bird and Sherwin are without peer...in capturing the humanity of the man." (Booklist)

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (1349 )
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4.0 (900 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Andrew S Downingtown, PA, United States 07-25-13
    Andrew S Downingtown, PA, United States 07-25-13 Member Since 2011

    I know enough to know, I don't know all I want to know...

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    "Is history repeating itself?"
    What made the experience of listening to American Prometheus the most enjoyable?

    Learning about life of Oppenheimer. I have always 'known' about Oppenheimer via my Physics background, but I had no idea where he came from, and what 'really' happen to him .


    Did Jeff Cummings do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    The voice of Mr. Cummings during most of the narration was fine. My only real problem with this book, was the editing... There were far too many edits, and they did NOT blend well, and after a while, it was rather distracting.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The Witch-Hunt, and that is were there seem to be many comparisons to what is going on in current times.


    Any additional comments?

    To me, learning about Oppenheimer's background from his youth to his death was fascinating!

    Having a background in Physics, it was amazing to think of the conversations he had with his Friends! Wow!

    To be a bug on the wall for those meetings would have be an incredible!

    Oh wait.. that did happen...

    This is a definite MUST listen if you have any interest in this Time period or early 20th Century Physics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. 07-16-13
    S. 07-16-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Very Thorogh -"

    Indeed an editor would have helped but it is still worth the read. While the first 1/3 is far too detailed with unimportant data, the last 2/3 is detailed with interesting although not critical data.

    The performance is at best a "C", but the quality of the recording is very poor; I'd say a D-. When they splice in corrections both the volume and tone change dramatically, which in some .parts is very distracting.

    Overall - if you like history it is worth the read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Taylor 03-25-13
    J. Taylor 03-25-13

    JET INC

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    "Great listen"

    The book is filled with information of the fascinating and detailed life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. The book was for the most part balanced. I did find the authors going off on details about supporting character lives that did not seem to tie strongly into Dr. Oppenheimer's life. Overall a long but worthwhile book about a amazing person living in an equally interesting time in world history.

    I did rate the performance a bit lower than I typically do. The reader was very engaging and articulate. My issue was with the audio quality. It would randomly vary for a few sentences as if they were recorded at a separate time or place and then inserted into the audio track. I would go back over the section to make sure it was not my player, but the audio issue would repeat at the exact spot. It is not major, but I seemed to be sensitive to the variations. I would not avoid the book based on this minor issue.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CosmicRay Hudson Valley, NY United States 03-11-13
    CosmicRay Hudson Valley, NY United States 03-11-13

    CosmicRay

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    "Interesting story, lots of details"
    What did you love best about American Prometheus?

    I liked the lot of details in the most interesting parts. I did not like the lots of details in the less interesting parts.the story remained interesting even after the building of the atomic bomb. The whole post WW2 development of the nuclear bomb industry is laid clear. On one side Oppenheimer was a genius, but was very naive


    Any additional comments?

    Narrators voice had an 'intellectual' tone. Good match for the subject matter, but a bit dry for a loooooong story

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    West Coast Reader 02-11-13
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    "One of the best audiobooks ever"
    If you could sum up American Prometheus in three words, what would they be?

    Fascinating and engaging true story from American history.


    Which character – as performed by Jeff Cummings – was your favorite?

    He read it all so well I did not even think about his technique.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Red Bluff, CA, United States 12-16-12
    Stephen Red Bluff, CA, United States 12-16-12 Member Since 2005

    You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis

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    "ENCHANTED LIFE OF AN AMERICAN WIZARD"

    Very good book. Not much tragedy here. Except perhaps..... well i'll let you read the book. Quite enjoyable. A pigeon holed look into the life of an intellectuall.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    peter melbourne, Australia 11-14-12
    peter melbourne, Australia 11-14-12
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    "A tale of genius: not mad, but not far off it"

    This is a lovingly written and sympathetic book about a troubled genius. The narration could be better: there are annoying changes of vocal tone at some points and I wondered whether some parts had been re-recorded. Some parts are over-long. But that didn't spoil the book for me. The insights into the early developments of nuclear physics are fascinating, as is the depiction of the race (as the men doing the job saw it) to build the atomic bomb. The detailed look at the unfair treatment of Oppenheimer during the communist hysteria of the fifties is brilliantly done. The part describing his leadership of the Los Alamos laboratory is the best thing I've read about the development of the bomb.

    The -in some ways sad-story of Oppenheimer's personal and family life is well told, but in the end he remains enigmatic. I was left with the impression that the humble and human aspects of his character won in the end over the arrogant side of his personality. The book takes some getting into: putting yourself in Oppenheimer's shoes is maybe impossible given the unique ingredients of his character.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 11-10-12 Member Since 2015
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    "horrible editing such a shame"
    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Most: the science
    Least: the unimportant background info


    What didn’t you like about Jeff Cummings’s performance?

    Unacceptable hacked together audio sessions


    Any additional comments?

    Audible should pull this title until it can be done better

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dataman 09-13-12
    Dataman 09-13-12

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Audio and Reader Ruined the Experience"

    The recording was bad and the reader was too. This ruined an otherwise acurate account of one of the most conflicted and misunderstood personalities of the 20th Century. The book needs to be re-recorded.
    If this review was helpful, please le me know. Cheers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 08-26-12
    John 08-26-12 Member Since 2016
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    "A must read...Physics and Politics"
    What did you love best about American Prometheus?

    Information about the "necessity" of dropping the bomb that no history book ever explained.


    What other book might you compare American Prometheus to and why?

    Lectures of Richard Fyenman


    What aspect of Jeff Cummings’s performance would you have changed?

    There were multiple audio problems" A few times it sounded like the same sentence was repeated. Other times the volumne and/or tone of the speaker changed so dramatically as to really detract from the content. The analogy would be a written book where the fonts suddenly change style, size, underlining, etc. to the point it is difficult to read,


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Nothing extreme, but constantly hearing new information, insightful information, emotional information...


    Any additional comments?

    When an audio book is devided into multiple files why don't the titles show 1/4, 2/4 or something like that. If you select the wrong file it goes to the top of the display. Now you have three more files that identical titles.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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