American Prometheus

  • by Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin
  • Narrated by Jeff Cummings
  • 26 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2006
National Book Critics Circle Award, Biography, 2006
J. Robert Oppenheimer is one of the iconic figures of the 20th 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. When he proposed international controls over atomic materials, opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb, and criticized plans for a nuclear war, his ideas were anathema to powerful advocates of a massive nuclear buildup during the anti-Communist hysteria of the early 1950s. They declared that Oppenheimer could not be trusted with America's nuclear secrets.
In this magisterial biography, 25 years in the making, the authors capture Oppenheimer's life and times, from his early career to his central role in the Cold War.


What the Critics Say

Pulitzer Prize Winner, Biography, 2006 "The definitive biography....Oppenheimer's life doesn't influence us. It haunts us." (Newsweek)
"[A] profoundly fascinating, richly complex, and ineffably sad American life....Bird and Sherwin are without capturing the humanity of the man." (Booklist)
"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." (New York Times)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Spoilt by a very poor recording

Imagine you’re reading a great book: perhaps you delight not only in the author’s skill with the pen, but also that of the typographer who has lovingly crafted the spacing, the line breaks and the hyphenation to ensure that the appearance of the type is as appealing as the story itself. Imagine then, that you turn the page only to find a single sentence set, not only in a different typeface, but also larger and poorly spaced. Reading further, you find odd passages here and there, sometimes just a few words, sometimes complete paragraphs that are set completely differently to the rest of the book. That is the visual equivalent of listening to this book, the recording of which is continuously interspersed with re-recorded passages that have a different quality than the original.

Although I’d read complaints about this in other reviews, I never imagined the extent to which it occurs. In almost every case, it’s a sentence that contains a name that’s either foreign or difficult to pronounce. It occurs so often that you can’t help wondering if it wouldn’t have been easier to have simply re-recorded the entire book. It’s jarring and, for me at least, interrupted and spoilt the narrative.

In a book that, thanks to the nature of its content, is riddled with foreign names and complicated words, you’d think that the producer, at least, would have either checked the pronunciations or chosen a narrator a little more au fait with foreign expressions and pronunciation. It’s very sad, because it’s an otherwise fascinating and well written book.
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- Steve

Unfortunately I returned it.

As others have said, the narration has been seamlessly spliced in to areas where the pronunciation needed to be corrected *sarcasm*. The first splice is the worst. The others later in the book sound like the narrator has decided to put a bucket on his head while talking.
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- Dan W.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 28-03-2007
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.