It would have never occurred to me to pick up this book, ordinarily. Only, as it happened, a classmate of mine gave me her copy after a happenstance discussion of Heisenberg and Oppenheimer. The book is, at just under 600 pages, a fairly extensive biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s the guy who headed up the Manhattan Project.

The book is well-written and engaging. Despite its bulk, the pacing moves quickly. Bird and Sherwin do an admirable job of fleshing out Oppenheimer’s life before and after the Manhattan Project, as well as making the reader feel that he has really met Oppenheimer and the other people who fill the pages.

Even knowing little about Oppenheimer, as I did, you can easily follow the framework of the book. At the same time, I feel that someone picking it up who is already familiar with Oppenheimer’s life would still find it compelling and informative.

On a side note, in addition to history buffs, I’d recommend the book to fiction writers who are looking for character inspiration, because Oppenheimer was quite the character :).

Long days and pleasant nights from the Tale-Weaver.

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