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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

4.3 (1648 )
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4.4 (1174 )
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4.1 (1165 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jaime 06-21-16
    Jaime 06-21-16 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    44
    5
    Overall
    "great book"

    I loved this book it kept my attention and was a great read. made me want to read more about this great man.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lnsy 06-08-16
    Lnsy 06-08-16
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    "Boring and Badly Recorded"
    Would you try another book from Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin and/or Jeff Cummings?

    No


    What could Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Reading the description of this book, I had the impression that it was going to focus on the rise and fall of this role in the automatic age, especially concerning his "trial". However, this book starts all the way at this birth and meanders slowly through his life, his marriages, etc. I have read biographies before and I love non-fiction, but this was just boring. It needs an abridgment desperately.


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

    While the narrator was in fact fine on his own, it was the recording itself that was done poorly. The book would switch between a normal reading to a faded out reading, like he had moved behind a wall. Clearly this book was recorded in sessions and no one bothered to make sure each session was recorded with the same quality. For a paid book, this is pretty unforgivable. I've listened to plenty of free, volunteer read audiobooks, that didn't have this sloppy quality.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy 08-19-15
    Timothy 08-19-15
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    "Well researched and Illuminating"

    This well researched, illuminating account of Oppenheimer's life, goes to great lengths to describe his murky relationship to the Communist Party and it's various members. While at the same time filling out the more personal aspects of the famed Manhattan Project leader's life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael WORCESTER, MA, United States 08-05-15
    Michael WORCESTER, MA, United States 08-05-15 Member Since 2012
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    11
    7
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    "A seminal work on a seminal individual, poorly rea"

    The seminal work on one of the most important and vexing men of the 20th century. The book is tremendous history, impeccably researched, and expertly presented. Unfortunately, the production quality is significantly below what Blackstone Audio typically does. The initial narrator is great but apparently he mispronounced a couple of the names in the book, particularly Louis Strauss (he pronounces it like Leo Strauss, when in fact it is more like Straws), so they corrected this but the audio mixing of the correction is poor, it's in a different tone, volume, and cadence. Strauss in particular is a central character throughout 50% of Oppenheimer's life so in every instance of his name coming up, hundreds throughout the book, you get the sliced in narrator and it's very abrupt. I expect more of Blackstone Audio.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan L. Rubin MD San Francisco, CA 07-29-15
    Alan L. Rubin MD San Francisco, CA 07-29-15 Member Since 2017
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    3
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    "A Genius Who Gave All and Suffered For It"

    I loved the book. It was extremely well researched. The story was told and read beautifully.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant Wentworth 07-12-15 Member Since 2014
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    "As good as advertised"
    If you could sum up American Prometheus in three words, what would they be?

    Genius, Misunderstood, Genius


    What did you like best about this story?

    It is interesting to see how Oppie was well ahead of his time.


    What about Jeff Cummings’s performance did you like?

    He reads very well,although overemphasizes his S' sometimes.


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

    When he was accused of being a communist.


    Any additional comments?

    Very good bio!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vladimir I. 07-11-15
    Vladimir I. 07-11-15 Member Since 2016
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    5
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    "Interesting historical account"

    At age 40 I knew nothing about the man - very informative and educational - good job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pegeen 05-22-15
    Pegeen 05-22-15
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    "Balanced and insightful"

    Red scare and Red spies; leave science to the scientists and the use of its products to the policy-makers. Full of well researched charter tidbits. I loved getting the inside story on the AEC. Humanized the man.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Travis ROME, NY, United States 05-09-15
    Travis ROME, NY, United States 05-09-15 Member Since 2017
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    "Too much"

    There was a lot of good and interesting information but that last half seemed to be a ton of filler; endless FBI wire taps.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John M Jackson 04-17-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not that interesting a life"

    Oppenheimer simply isn't that interesting of an individual. This books looks more at his actions and very little at his motivations or thoughts. The post-war section may be of interest to those who enjoy Cold War politics. Also, the recording quality is sub par.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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