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  • American Prometheus

  • The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
  • By: Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin
  • Narrated by: Jeff Cummings
  • Length: 26 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (112 ratings)

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American Prometheus

By: Kai Bird,Martin J. Sherwin
Narrated by: Jeff Cummings
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Publisher's Summary

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • The definitive biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, 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.

THE INSPIRATION FOR THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
OPPENHEIMER

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.

©2005 Kai Bird; 2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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 listeners say about American Prometheus

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  • Overall
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Touching

Never knew the entire story of Oppenheimer until I heard this book. The Amazing but sad journey of a intellect is minutely captured in this book. And once again a great narration from Jeff. I always knew Openheimer as the father of the atom bomb - after reading this book I now know that he won’t be proud of that title.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great story

Only limited by poor sound editing. Randomly chops between two qualities of narrator. Needs a re-recording.

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Very good book and excellent reading

The book is well written and well read by Jeff. I enjoyed it very much.

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Amazing story, learnt so much

Overall, very good and worth seeing through what to me is a very long book. Some areas early in the book could have been condensed with no detriment to the book. But I learned so much, I knew I didn’t know much about this part of history or Oppenheimer, but I knew nothing! I liked that the book spun an overall positive view of him but recognised his flaws. The book taught so much more than just a persons life but also the political and social factors of the time. Highly recommend

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Fascinating story, poor production

This exhaustive exploration of the life of "Oppy" is consistently interesting, including the great rivalries with Lewis Strauss and lesserly Edward Teller that contributed to his fall, and the role of FBI and McCarthyist communist phobia.
The narration though is very inconsistent. Sudden changes in tone and quality, poor pronunciation, and very uneven forays into foreign accents for some characters. Really jerked me out of the story on numerous occasions. At times I wondered if there were two people reading it, often when there were names of physicists or others.
If you want the back story to the movie this is definitely the book for you.

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A wonderful book

A memorable journey through the life of a great scientist. It is worth everyone’s time.

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Loved it!

Decided to listen to this after I watched the movie. I'm a big fan.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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A thorough history

An interesting insight into one of the truly consequential figures of 20th century history. The research and writing is thorough and compelling and the reading wasn't a problem for me but as others have mentioned, the weird patchwork of edits and re-records can be distracting.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant!

An excellent account of the life of this fascinating scientist, nuanced, clear and wonderfully narrated. I particularly liked the precise and scientifically styled language, it felt like a style Oppenheimer would have used.

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Complex

A complex character…a complex story. Drives home, yet again, the evils of politics. And, yes, he was a tragic figure but also a very privileged one.

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