A Life in Twilight is an important exploration, not only of a prominent scientist and philosopher, but also of an unforgettable era in American history.


There is a tension within free society as to the precedence of freedom or the measures that the world requires we temper that freedom with in order to remain free. For all of his beautiful dreams, and horrible nightmares, J. Robert Oppenheimer finally failed as a soldier of freedom and was left bewildered and bitter when he was dismissed from the ranks in disgrace. This book fails to appreciate the requirements of strength and is a litany of complaints about how those that fail to meet the bar are diminished – as if it were the bar’s fault – but for those who can appreciate the true facts of the case it provides a good object lesson of what failure earns.

A life in twilight : the final years of J. Robert Oppenheimer    New York : St. Martin’s Press, 2008 Mark Wolverton Physicists United States Biography, Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967 Last years Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. x, 339 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 325-327) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A Life in Twilight reveals the least-known and most enigmatic period of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s life, from the public humiliation he endured after the 1954 Atomic Energy Commission’s investigation into his alleged communist leanings and connections to his death in 1967. It covers Oppenheimer’s continued work as a scientist and philosopher and head of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, his often controversial public appearances, as well as parts of his private life.

What emerges is a portrait of a man who was toppled from the highest echelons of politics and society, had to see his honor and name blackened, but succeeded in maintaining his dignity and rebuilding a shattered life, although he never truly recovered from the McCarthy-inspired persecution he suffered. Previously unpublished FBI files round out the picture and cast a sinister cloud over Oppenheimer’s final years, during which he remained under occasional surveillance.

Mark Wolverton has succeeded in presenting an evenhanded and very well- researched account of a life that ended in twilight. It reads like a written version of the acclaimed film Good Night, and Good Luck, and indeed Murrow’s interview with Oppenheimer is one of the central elements of the story.

Advertisements

Comments Off on A Life in Twilight is an important exploration, not only of a prominent scientist and philosopher, but also of an unforgettable era in American history.

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments are closed.