Summary of American Prometheus

The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Sherwin, Martin J.


"American Prometheus" is an exhaustively researched and meticulously crafted biography of Robert Oppenheimer, the remarkable figure from the Cold War era. This award-winning book offers a comprehensive exploration of Oppenheimer's intricate personal life and character, as well as his notable contributions to science and American history. Its blend of detailed examination and compelling narrative provides an unparalleled insight into the man and his times. Regarded as a key resource on Oppenheimer, this book offers a profound understanding of the forces that shaped modern notions of liberalism and reaction in American culture.
“The best single book ever written about Oppenheimer.”

—American Scientist”
  1. Preface
  2. Prologue
  3. 1 He Received Every New Idea as Perfectly Beautiful
  4. 2 His Separate Prison
  5. 3 I Am Having a Pretty Bad Time
  6. 4 I Find the Work Hard, Thank God, & Almost Pleasant
  7. 5 I Am Oppenheimer
  8. 6 Oppie
  9. 7 The Nim Nim Boys
  10. 8 In 1936 My Interests Began to Change
  11. 9 [Frank] Clipped It Out and Sent It In
  12. 10 More and More Surely
  13. 11 I’m Going to Marry a Friend of Yours, Steve
  14. 12 We Were Pulling the New Deal to the Left
  15. 13 The Coordinator of Rapid Rupture
  16. 14 The Chevalier A fair
  17. 15 He’d Become Very Patriotic
  18. 16 Too Much Secrecy
  19. 17 Oppenheimer Is Telling the Truth ...
  20. 18 Suicide, Motive Unknown
  21. 19 Would You Like to Adopt Her?
  22. 20 Bohr Was God, and Oppie Was His Prophet
  23. 21 The Impact of the Gadget on Civilization
  24. 22 Now We’re All Sons-of-Bitches
  25. 23 Those Poor Little People
  26. 24 I Feel I Have Blood on My Hands
  27. 25 People Could Destroy New York
  28. 26 Oppie Had a Rash and Is Now Immune
  29. 27 An Intellectual Hotel
  30. 28 He Couldn’t Understand Why He Did It
  31. 29 I Am Sure That Is Why She Threw Things at Him
  32. 30 He Never Let On What His Opinion Was
  33. 31 Dark Words About Oppie
  34. 32 Scientist X
  35. 33 The Beast in the Jungle
  36. 34 It Looks Pretty Bad, Doesn’t It?
  37. 35 I Fear That This Whole Thing Is a Piece of Idiocy
  38. 36 A Manifestation of Hysteria
  39. 37 A Black Mark on the Escutcheon of Our Country
  40. 38 I Can Still Feel the Warm Blood on My Hands
  41. 39 It Was Really Like a Never-Never-Land
  42. 40 It Should Have Been Done the Day After Trinity
  43. Epilogue: There’s Only One Robert