Reappraising Oppenheimer
Centennial Studies and Reflections
Reapprasing Oppenheimer cover image

Published December 2005

Office for History of Science and Technology

University of California, Berkeley

413 pp.
ISBN 0-9672617-3-2
Price: $14.00

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Edited by Cathryn Carson and David A. Hollinger
Berkeley Papers in History of Science, Vol. 21


Standing at the pivot of the twentieth century, J. Robert Oppenheimer holds our imagination in his grip. From otherworldly aestheticism to the leadership of Los Alamos, from the corridors of power to political dejection—the arc of his life stands in for the large-scale trajectory of modern American science.

Reappraising Oppenheimer: Centennial Studies and Reflections marks the century since Oppenheimer's birth and the half-century since his infamous security hearing. It assembles essays written by leading historians for a 2004 conference in Berkeley, the home of his school of theoretical physics and the site of his group's first calculations of the design parameters for an atomic bomb.

Complementing the recent biographies, the volume marks the coming-of-age of Oppenheimer studies. Its essays discuss Oppenheimer's scientific creativity, his stature as an intellectual, and his hotly debated relationship to the Communist Party. They explore parallels to the Soviet atomic bomb project and the background to his postwar fall from grace.

The book is an ideal introduction to cutting-edge research on Oppenheimer for teachers, students, scholars, and the interested public.


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