Customer Reviews


17 Reviews
5 star:
 (14)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

4.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener, 4 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Inside The Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Hardcover)
Very readable book with lots of insights into the mind of Opje garnered from an expanse of relevant timeline facts and also an understanding and description of the times in which he lived.

Would be especially intersting for those interested in histroy of science.

Well worth the read.

Got 4 stars as at points I found the author went off on a wander into very distantly related subjects and events but still an excellant read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Truth, 24 Dec 2012
By 
Craig Eldred (Danville, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Inside The Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Hardcover)
Hoover vs Oppenheimer? I'll side with Oppenheimer everyday. Hoover was a #%$)@. Read this book and know a true American Hero!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and easy to read, 17 Dec 2012
By 
morebyless (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A well written account of one of the most important people in recent times.

Full of easy to understand science and a broad insight to the American Jews.

Captivating and compelling.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Scientist Who Helped to Release the Nuclear Genie, 18 Nov 2012
By 
Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This 800 page biography of an outstanding scientist by the philosopher Ray Monk is extremely well researched and written with admirable clarity. Monk has already written excellent biographies of Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell. However, it does not surpass in detail or scholarship the 600 page Pulitzer prize winning biography by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin published in 2006.

Oppenheimer was born in 1904 in new York to a wealthy Jewish family. His mother was an accomplished painter. Like many great men he was an enigma. Most of his relationships with colleagues were of the love-hate kind. He was bullied at school, hated sport and music. A precocious student he loved science and the Greek classics. After school he went to Harvard where he graduated early, and then entered Christ College Cambridge where he met some of the world's leading scientists, for example, Bohr and Dirac. His priestly manner was noted by his colleagues as was at times his very cold almost brutal manner.

Oppenheimer was a man who could never find enough satisfaction with his achievements, who was always forced to strive for more and better. One physicist said of him he:'couldn't run a hamburger stand'. Yet Oppenheimer became an outstanding scientist and the Director of the Manhattan Project. The latter was a massive engineering task that Oppenheimer delivered in 1000 days, an incredible achievement. We need to remember that he achieved this despite being faced with numerous neurotic, arrogant, jealous and, to put it mildly, very difficult scientists from every corner of the globe. Leadership of the highest quality was required and Oppenheimer provided it.

Oppenheimer was not just a formidable scientist. He was first and foremost a brilliant leader and teacher of, for example, quantum field theory. At the University of California he led America's great school of theoretical physics. While there he was responsible for giving several young scientists their first chance to do research.

His wife, Kitty, was an alcoholic. He was loyal to her throughout their marriage. His relationship with his two children was always troubled. Monk tells us that when daughter Toni was a baby she was put up for adoption by a friend because Oppenheimer said: 'I can't love her'. She later committed suicide. Since Oppenheimer's death in 1967 his son Peter has remained silent about his father.

After 1945 Oppenheimer became a national hero. Monk describes how he was impersonated by young men. He quickly became known, somewhat unfairly, as the:'Father of the Bomb'. He went to Princeton and became Director of the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study. He also became a government advisor on nuclear matters. He never hesitated to give highly critical views on contentious nuclear matters, an attitude that did not go down well with some senior military personnel. In the early 50's he was vilified for not wanting the H bomb to be built.

When the McCarthy witch hunt was in full flow, Oppenheimer's left-wing past was dredged up and he was stripped of his security clearance by a kangaroo court. His position was not helped by the fact that since 1945 he had openly stated his concerns about the existence of the nuclear weapon and the dangers it posed for world peace. Oppenheimer was devastated by his rejection. It was many years before this humiliation was reversed by another US government.

Much has been written elsewhere about Oppenheimer's mental health. Monk's book reveals little new in this respect. We do know that he sought the help of psychiatrists on a number of occasions and that his behaviour could be very erratic, indeed bizarre. He once said that his love of horse riding was a wonderful escape from the problems of the world. It is worth noting that he named his horse CRISIS.
The poem by John Dryden may shed some light on Robert Oppenheimer's mental state:

'Great wits are sure to madness near allied,
And their partitions do their bounds divide'.

Read this book together with that by Kai Bird if you want to learn about a very great scientist, leader and teacher. We will always wonder what might have happened if he had not been in charge at Los Alamos when the outcome changed the world for ever. Like all of us he was a flawed individual but I for one am grateful he was in charge in that desert.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book badly published, 3 Dec 2012
By 
W. Scott "elenkus" (Bute, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Inside The Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Hardcover)
In an age when books are under threat, you would expect publishers to make their books as accessible as possible. This one is incompetent. The inside text is far too close to the spine for easy reading. The exterior text has all the space, as if that was desirable. The book is very difficult to read. One wonders whether the publisher has ever read a book this size to make such a simple mistake. It definitely takes both hands.
Many things in the book are interesting. Oppenheimer's early life, his jewishness and its effects, the story about the poisoned apple left on Blackett's table out of jealousy for a superior breed of scientist [Oppie, reared in the US in arts, never learned the nuts and bolts of the inventive Brits who were brought up to make their own equipment: he was barely tolerated as a student at Cambridge, England]. How Oppie got off with this virtual attempted murder (which he often spoke about) remains a mystery: he was allowed to continue. The work on Los Alamos is even a short course in atomic physics. Armed with the periodic table and the pre quark theory, one can understand it very well. It is interesting to come across the names of people one knew or met like Otto Frisch [who sailed (as I know) with the great man in Einstein's boat] and Robin Schlapp, a former teacher of mine. The way in which the higher physics community operates is also very clear and Oppenheimer's great achievement in providing and stimulating such an important set of intellectual experiences for so many scientists engaged in the building of the bombs.
The security aspects I found less interesting, and left a lot out, though the ways in which Oppenheimer contributed to his own downfall are well explained. As well as the decline not just in his own ability to manage and stimulate fresh discoveries in physics when director at Princeton Institute for Advanced Study but because of his moral failings in hanging out others to dry when the moves against the red menace took place.
There is a great deal in this work and it will be a valuable reference in future. But it is too comprehensive to be interesting all through, unlike some of the author's other books.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read, excellent insight, 27 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Inside The Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Hardcover)
this is an excellent read and an excellent insight into what must be the all time greatest scientist out today
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not read it myself - present for mathematically minded daughter, 8 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Inside The Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Hardcover)
Book appears well presented and full of information. Sounds fascinating but have not read it myself. Perhaps daughter will write her own review later
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Inside The Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer
Inside The Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Ray Monk (Hardcover - 15 Nov 2012)
20.40
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews