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J. Robert Oppenheimer: A Life.


At the time of his death in 2000, award-winning author Pais was working on this revealing portrait of one of America's most charismatic and important physicists. Crease completed the book using Pals' notes. Oppenheimer was arrogant as well as brilliant and had a career and personal life replete with accomplishment and tragedy. Shortly after the United States' entry into World War II, Oppenheimer was selected to be scientific head of the atomic bomb commission at Los Alamos. He had developed an interest in political life, inspired by his desire to help his students during the depression and his fellow Jews in Germany. The appointment thrust Oppenheimer into the role of statesman of science for several decades. After the United States dropped two atomic bombs built under Oppenheimer's guidance, the scientist returned to academia. He remained a key figure in this country's 20th-century dominance of physics research until 1953. At that time, the height of McCarthyism, Oppenheimer was accused of being a Soviet spy and charged with trying to stop the development of the hydrogen bomb. The government suspended his security clearance, and his image as an illustrious scientist was forever tainted. Oxford, 2006, 400 p., b&w plates, hardcover, $30.00.
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Publication:Science News
Article Type:Book review
Date:May 20, 2006
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