American Prometheus - Kai Bird & Martin J. Sherwin

American Prometheus

By Kai Bird & Martin J. Sherwin

  • Release Date: 2005-04-05
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4
From 897 Ratings


THE INSPIRATION FOR THE ACADEMY AWARD®-WINNING MAJOR MOTION PICTURE OPPENHEIMER • "A riveting account of one of history’s most essential and paradoxical figures.”—Christopher Nolan

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • The definitive biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century, a brilliant physicist who led the effort to build the atomic bomb for his country in a time of war, and who later found himself confronting the moral consequences of scientific progress.

In this magisterial, acclaimed biography twenty-five years in the making, Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin capture Oppenheimer’s life and times, from his early career to his central role in the Cold War. This is biography and history at its finest, riveting and deeply informative.

“A masterful account of Oppenheimer’s rise and fall, set in the context of the turbulent decades of America’s own transformation. It is a tour de force.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“A work of voluminous scholarship and lucid insight, unifying its multifaceted portrait with a keen grasp of Oppenheimer’s essential nature.... It succeeds in deeply fathoming his most damaging, self-contradictory behavior.” —The New York Times


  • Manipulative

    By Penguin2222
    There is tons and tons of reliable data in this book, but some of it is without context. It’s not going into enough detail as to why people like Strauss were fearful of communism such as the Holodomor where millions were purposefully starved to death by the communists in Ukraine, the systematic murder of Stalin’s own people, Mao murdering his 40 million in China at the same time as Oppenheimer’s trial, etc. Strauss, McCarthy, and others were right to fear communism. However, were they right in revoking Oppenheimer’s security clearance? That can be debated and there is nothing wrong with a healthy debate so long as the reader sees both sides because this is a history lesson.
  • Loved this book

    By $$kgplayer$$
    Seems to be a fairly honest description of his life. Nothing sweetened up.. nothing dramatized. Just a good, well-written biography.
  • Sad Story

    By Biker13
    Kai Bird reveals himself as a bit of a partisan hack with his pointed attempts to malign one political party. It undermines his objectivity and seems petty when such a broad cast of characters with varied backgrounds from both parties are responsible for a rather long and tragic story that spans administrations.
  • Tops!

    By Lexpaxz
    Excellent story on Oppenheimer and the A-Bomb. Highly recommended.
  • Better than the movie

    By Zinguy
    After watching the 2023 movie Oppenheimer I had to read American Prometheus. It is in my opinion one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. It is so much more that the life and times of J. Robert Oppenheimer. His story told within the context of World War Two, the atomic bomb, the Cold War, and the sad events of McCarthyism provides a rich history of the times that vaulted America into the roll of world leader with all the good and bad that that entails. Richly written this book also bares extraordinary insight into our current political discourse. Genuinely showing how powerful and destructive, petty, thin skinned political operatives can control false narratives to destroy reputations. A must read for anyone who understands that history, well told, can show a clear path to understanding current events.
  • Deja Vu Persecution

    By Samnite100
    Excellent summary... Now to watch the movie!
  • A hero vindicated.

    By Starkraving7
    Outstanding. Detailed and riveting.
  • Buy this book

    By cadoc1951
    Hard to put it down. Fascinating account despite my having read several other books re A bomb development.
  • Masterpiece

    By bet6436535
    Impressive biography - highly recommended
  • A technical criticism

    By Bob McKluskey
    Lot of audio pickups in this recording. However, the mixer or recordist clearly did not use the same microphone so the drop ins did not match. No attempt was made to EQ the pickups or level the new adds. As a result, it made listening very choppy and annoying. Audio production is quite simple. Its odd that no one bothered to make the pickups match the original recording session.