Sunday, April 30, 2006

Promethian Propaganda

As I prepare for another book about the WWII era and focus on activities at Caltech, I am amazed at what I am finding. In talking with widows and children of scientists who were there at the time plus a few others who are in their nineties and were also there, I am finding differences between what has been written and what is recalled. All the differences cannot be accidental or just the result of one’s “slant.” Some are factual.

Discovering these differences is what makes the job fun. They give another dimension to research.

I take particular exception to parts of the new biography of Julius Robert Oppenheimer called American Prometheus. Well written and no doubt well-researched, it contains curious omissions and is a bit too adoring to be an objective work.

I do not intend to write extensively about JRO, but I cannot help but take written notice of him as I interview those whose paths crossed his in the early 1940’s. It was a time of heroes and giants; JRO was at least one of the giants although not, perhaps, all that Promethian.

No comments: