Robert Oppenheimer

  • by Ray Monk
  • Narrated by Michael Goldstrom
  • 35 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Robert Oppenheimer was among the most brilliant and divisive of men. As head of the Los Alamos Laboratory, he oversaw the successful effort to beat the Nazis in the race to develop the first atomic bomb – a breakthrough that was to have eternal ramifications for mankind and that made Oppenheimer the “Father of the Atomic Bomb.” But with his actions leading up to that great achievement, he also set himself on a dangerous collision course with Senator Joseph McCarthy and his witch-hunters. In Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center, Ray Monk, author of peerless biographies of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, goes deeper than any previous biographer in the quest to solve the enigma of Oppenheimer’s motivations and his complex personality.
The son of German-Jewish immigrants, Oppenheimer was a man of phenomenal intellectual attributes, driven by an ambition to overcome his status as an outsider and penetrate the heart of political and social life. As a young scientist, his talent and drive allowed him to enter a community peopled by the great names of twentieth-century physics – men such as Niels Bohr, Max Born, Paul Dirac, and Albert Einstein – and to play a role in the laboratories and classrooms where the world was being changed forever, where the secrets of the universe, whether within atomic nuclei or collapsing stars, revealed themselves.
But Oppenheimer’s path went beyond one of assimilation, scientific success, and world fame. The implications of the discoveries at Los Alamos weighed heavily upon this fragile and complicated man. In the 1930s, in a climate already thick with paranoia and espionage, he made suspicious connections, and in the wake of the Allied victory, his attempts to resist the escalation of the Cold War arms race led many to question his loyalties.
Through compassionate investigation and with towering scholarship, Ray Monk’s Robert Oppenheimer tells an unforgettable story of discovery, secrecy, impossible choices, and unimaginable destruction.

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What the Critics Say

"A highly detailed examination of the life and times of Robert Oppenheimer ... Monk does full justice to Oppenheimer's irreplaceable contribution to the development of nuclear energy during and after World War II ... A top-notch biography." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
"In this deeply humanizing biography, Monk invites readers to contemplate the unexpected evil—and good—in the man known as the "father of the A-bomb." ... Monk delves deeper than any predecessor into Oppenheimer's inner life ... perceptive and detailed, this portrait illuminates a potent but complex mind." (Booklist, starred review)
“A tour de force … [it] will establish itself as the definitive biography.” (Financial Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Nearly Perfect

He is a human being like the rest of us with some remarkable interests. This was a wonderful book for shedding light on, and expanding my understanding of the Manhattan Project. That is a pretty cool thing, being a Feynman fan it is cool to get stories that cross paths with his life line. This book gives us a peek into the lives of other great physicists of that age too which I also enjoyed. It is written well enough to have you emotionally attached and sympathizing for him as the course of his life is unfolded in such a seemingly complete way. Bravo to Ray Monk! If while reading(or listening) to a book I am brought to empathetic tears I am a fan. This book did that for me, as well as educated me on historical and physical matters concerning some of the most exciting parts of United States history.

The narrator was perfect by my standards. My standards require for perfection a voice that is not annoying, and few pronunciation errors throughout the production. This fits that descriptions.

I am not sure, but believe this is not in the Science and Technology section of Audible. I mention that because this was a book I believe I would have purchased long ago had it been cataloged there. I found this on the shelves of a Barnes and Noble and thought I would type it in to the search bar on Audible just for shits and giggles, and to my surprise it was there. Anyway, with some of the technical aspects of the science being done in the history observed in this book, Ray Monk gets very descriptive. That was a plus for me, but may seem unnecessary to many reader. The author also gives a short argument in the beginning of the book defending these lengthy technical inclusions.

This is well worth the credit!
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- Amazon Customer "A person trying to share those books capable of improving the minds of those who take the time to read them, and in turn improve the world!"

One of the BEST biographies on Audible!!

Oppenheimer was one of the most important people in the history of mankind, when you consider how he contributed to science, and the development/harnessing of atomic energy. Talk about a world creator/destroyer; this was that guy! A genius like him comes around but once every century or so. Monk does a superb job in researching the complex life of a complex man.

It easily could've gotten bogged down in meaningless details, but never did. It held my interest throughout. If you care at all about physics, science, or the history of nuclear weapons, this is the book for you.

As far as biographies go, this is top 5 of the ones I've read. I've read over 50.

Narrator is outstanding!
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- aaron "Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-14-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio