AUTHORThorpe, Charles
TITLEOppenheimer: The Tragic Intellect
PUBLISHERThe University of Chicago Press
CITYChicago, IL

The author of this book uses the life and career of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to develop and analyze some general ideas about twentieth century science and scientists. Those ideas include the shaping of self, the cultural and political authority of science, charisma of science and scientists, and their individual moral responsibility. The author’s goal is to provide a biography that integrates the character of the individual with the structure of his society. The preface contrasts the approaches of recent (2000 to 2006) biographies of Oppenheimer and places the author’s work into perspective with them. An introductory chapter presenting the author’s treatment of Oppenheimer's complex personality is followed by chapters on his youth, early career, leadership at Los Alamos, his post-World War II role in the politics of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the military, the AEC loyalty security hearings, and his attempt to establish his public role after those hearings. Extensive notes and a comprehensive bibliography support the work.

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