The Ruin of J. Robert Oppenheimer: And the Birth of the Modern Arms Race

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9780142001158: The Ruin of J. Robert Oppenheimer: And the Birth of the Modern Arms Race

In a groundbreaking book that recasts the history of the Cold War, bestselling author Priscilla J. McMillan exposes, for the first time, the truth behind J. Robert Oppenheimer’s 1954 trial on charges of violating national security. Drawing on newly declassified papers and extensive interviews, McMillan places Oppenheimer’s opposition to development of the hydrogen bomb at the heart of the story—opposition that made him the victim of government officials who, conspiring with rival scientist Edward Teller, deceived President Eisenhower and trapped the enigmatic genius who had done more than anyone to build the atomic bomb. A chilling exposé of the McCarthy-era conspiracy that helped propel the East-West arms race, this is a spellbinding work of history.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Priscilla McMillan has brought us a superb and fascinating book -- a page-turner that illuminates unseen dimensions of one of the most controversial American stories of the twentieth century. THE RUIN OF J. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER has much to teach us not only about science, politics and the Cold War, but also about universal human issues like friendship, ambition and justice."
-- Michael Beschloss

"Filled with fresh revelations, Priscilla McMillan's long-awaited new book is by far the best--the most accurate and detailed--account yet to be written of the deliberate campaign to destroy Robert Oppenheimer and elevate Edward Teller nefariously to power, a campaign that initiated the dangerous nuclear arms race that plagued the world for fifty years."
--Richard Rhodes

"On one level, this is a terrific biography of the giant who made the bomb reduced to a discredited, tragic figure by the early perversions of the Cold War. On another level, it's a history of that period in American history when the US suddenly realized that it was vulnerable to the communist nuclear threat. For anyone interested in biography and history, you can't do better than Johnson's treatment of Oppenheimer."
--Marvin Kalb

"Priscilla McMillan abundantly possesses all that was in such short supply during the spring of 1954 in Washington: thoroughness; clarity; common sense; human sympathy. The author's propulsive storytelling skills made her earlier work, MARINA AND LEE, the single best book ever written on the Kennedy assassination; she remains a master of narrative as she guides a reader through the legal, moral and scientific thickets of her latest subject. THE RUIN OF J. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER earns a place on the list of books essential to understanding what Communism and the Cold War did to all of us."
--Thomas Mallon

"An epochal American story superbly told. Drawing from a lifetime of experience and study, Priscilla McMillan has brought fresh insight, assiduous spadework, narrative skill, and a keen eye for the brilliance, folly, and tragedy of the extraodinary cast of characters, most of all J. Robert Oppenheimer himself, a protagonist in the defeat of Japan, the dawn of the nuclear age, the origins of the cold war, and the darkest days of McCarthyism. A book worthy of its momentous subject -- and worth waiting for."
--Strobe Talbott

About the Author:

Priscilla J. McMillan, a fellow of the Russian Research Center at Harvard, is the author of the bestselling Marina and Lee. She has also written for the New York Times, Harper’s, Scientific American, and other publications.

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