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American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

American Prometheus is the well-researched and thorough biography of the enigmatic J. Robert Oppenheimer. Before reading this book I already knew a lot about this famous scientist, and was skeptical that I would learn a lot more about Oppie. I was wrong. This book has given me an excellent picture of a genius who had to live in a world of people who are almost like ants (low intelligence) to him. The authors, Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, did an excellent job showing that Oppie was one of the most intelligent physicists that ever lived, but, at the same time, his super-active mind did not allow him to develop his ground-breaking physics discoveries. He left that to his brilliant graduate students at Cal Tech and Berkeley. Bird and Sherwin also showed that scientists are not just one-sided, knowing and caring only about science and mathematics. Oppie could hold his own in most fields, especially literature, with Nobel laureates. Finally, they do an excellent job of showing the tightrope that geniuses have to traverse--genius and mental illness are closely linked. I recommend this excellent biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

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