Inside the Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer

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Jonathan Cape, 2012 - Atomic bomb - 818 pages
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J. Robert Oppenheimer is among the most contentious and important figures of the twentieth century. As head of the Los Alamos Laboratory, he oversaw the successful effort to beat the Nazis to develop the first atomic bomb - a breakthrough which was to have eternal ramifications for mankind, and made Oppenheimer the 'father of the Bomb'.

Oppenheimer was a man of diverse interests and phenomenal intellectual attributes. His talent and drive allowed him as a young scientist to enter a community peopled by the great names of twentieth-century physics - men such as Bohr, Born, Dirac and Einstein - and to play a role in the laboratories and classrooms where the world was being changed forever.

But Oppenheimer's was not a simple story of assimilation, scientific success and world fame. A complicated and fragile personality, the implications of the discoveries at Los Alamos were to weigh heavily upon him. Having formed suspicious connections in the 1930s, in the wake of the Allied victory in World War Two, Oppenheimer's attempts to resist the escalation of the Cold War arms race would lead many to question his loyalties - and set him on a collision course with Senator Joseph McCarthy and his witch hunters.

As with Ray Monk's peerless biographies of Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, Inside the Centre is a work of towering scholarship. A story of discovery, secrecy, impossible choices and unimaginable destruction, it goes deeper than any previous work in revealing the motivations and complexities of this most brilliant and divisive of men.

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About the author (2012)

RAY MONK is professor of philosophy at the University of Southhampton and the author of two previous biographies, "Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius," for which he was awarded the 1991 Duff Cooper Prize for best work of nonfiction in English, and a two-volume biography of Bertrand Russell. He lives in England.

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