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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 (1393 )
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4.3 (952 )
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4.0 (939 )
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Performance
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  •  
    West Coast Reader 02-11-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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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

    HELPFUL VOTES
    135
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    229
    83
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    40
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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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!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    41
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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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    2
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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
  •  
    Everett Redondo Beach, CA, United States 08-06-12
    Everett Redondo Beach, CA, United States 08-06-12
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    "Detailed information about J. Robert Oppenheimer"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The book goes into great detail about J. Robert Oppenheimer work and personal life. Sometimes it could be very dry, but is need to describe what type of person Oppenheimer was and which roll he played when constructing the first atomic bomb.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MR 08-05-12
    MR 08-05-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Good story but like listening to a ransom note"
    Would you consider the audio edition of American Prometheus to be better than the print version?

    The book is good, although it was sometimes a little harder to keep track of all the names of all the people involved (over the course of the life of a prominent figure). Some minor repetition of phrases that made me think I had accidentally skipped backwards.

    But the editing of the audio made it seem like I was listening to a ransom note. The cuts are often so different in volume and tone, some people might find it jarring.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Viviane 06-18-12
    Viviane 06-18-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Historic facts help make a better future"

    The other day I was listening to an interview with a popular actor, and he said something like: "I was taught at school to think about the system and challenge it. This is why we go to school." In my opinion, if a school only produces yes-men it has failed. If it teaches us to ask question and build opinions it has achieved its purpose. Robert Oppenheimer is a historic figure, yet close enough to our modern times that his life and work is documented. His rise and fall highlights high and low points of human behavior on all sides. This book encourages the reader to be real and authentic in his actions and persuasions, and to keep asking questions about our motivations. Lengthy at times, but full of historic value.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Krug 05-29-12
    S. Krug 05-29-12 Member Since 2012
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    23
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    Story
    "Tough to listen too"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Very informative and a lot of background. It seems that tangents are taken with characters that detract from the story a bit.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Charlene Harris


    What does Jeff Cummings bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Very good at pronunciation of the various physics names and vernacular .


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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