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Kai Bird, Martin L. Sherwin

American Prometheus: The Triumph And Tragedy Of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Vintage Books



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First paperback edition, third printing of Bird and Sherwn's biography of Robert Oppenheimer.

  • Kai Bird (American).
  • Martin L. Sherwn (American).
  • New York: Vintage Books, 2005.  
  • xii, 721 pages.
  • Octavo.
  • Inscribed flat by Kai Bird to Thomas Hughes on author biography page, dated May 2006 "For Tom Hughes—A mentor and a lover of history. With admiration for all his good work!"
  • Bound in original wrapper, spine with black and white with white and red lettering.

Thomas Hughes served as the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (now known as the Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research) from April 28, 1963 through August 25, 1969, serving under Kennedy and Johnson and resigning under Nixon. He went on to serve as president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 1971 to 1991. Originally joining Washington as legislative counsel to Senator Hubert Humphrey in 1955, he worked with then Vice President Humphrey to compose a memorandum from Humphrey to President Johnson warning about the negative consequences of escalation and intensification of the war in Vietnam.

From the memorandum, dated Washington, February 17, 1965: "SUBJECT Vietnam. I would like to share with you my views on the political consequences of certain courses of action that have been proposed in regard to U.S. policy in Southeast Asia. I refer both to the domestic political consequences here in the United States and to the international political consequences."

"In 1968, with an eye to history, Hughes commissioned an independent 'self-study' to evaluate the INR's intelligence efforts during the Vietnam War. Hughes was unaware at the time of the similar but more elaborate project to study the Pentagon's decision-making on Vietnam, commissioned by Defense Secretary McNamara. Time Magazine, in 1971, mentioned the INR study and dubbed it the State Department's version of the Pentagon Papers. But Hughes's study remained classified until 2004...Hughes, upon the publication of the State Department study of the INR and Vietnam, assessed his and his bureau's role in these terms: '...[we] have the ironic satisfaction of knowing that most of our forecasts have been vindicated by history. We can only lament that, while we were heeded, we were unable to persuade, sway, or prevail when it came to the ultimate decisions.'" [Smith Bruce L. R and Brookings Institution Press. 2021. The Last Gentleman : Thomas Hughes and the End of the American Century. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.]

At the Carnegie Endowment, one of the projects established by Hughes was the Carnegie Endowment's program on arms control, which became an independent membership organization, the Arms Control Association, in 1972. Hughes was among the founding board members of the association, where he served for nearly thirty years.

Julius Robert Oppenheimer was an American theoretical physicist. He was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II, and is often credited as the "father of the atomic bomb" for his role in the Manhattan Project, the research and development undertaking that created the first nuclear weapons.

Condition Report

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Minor shelfwear.

Sunfading to spine.

Light soiling to bottom edge of textblock.


First Edition, Signed




Science, Americana, Military, History, Biography

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