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Robert Oppenheimer’s life—his career, his reputation, even his sense of self-worth—suddenly spiraled out of control four days before Christmas in 1953.
I can’t believe what’s happening to me,” he said, staring out the window of the car, which was speeding toward Washington, D.C. I was on my way to my lawyer’s house in Georgetown. There, within a matter of hours, he was faced with a fatal decision.
Should he resign from his government advisory posts? Or should he fight the allegations contained in the letter that Lewis Strauss, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), suddenly handed him earlier that afternoon?
The letter informed him that he had been declared a security risk as a result of a new review of his background and policy recommendations, and outlined thirty-four allegations ranging from the ridiculous to the ludicrous – “It was reported that in 1940 you as a was listed as a sponsor of the Friends of the Chinese People in the autumn of 1949 – for political, and after that, you
Strongly opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb.”
Interestingly, since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Oppenheimer had a vague premonition that something dark and ominous awaited him.
A few years earlier, in the late 1940s, at a time when he had achieved an iconic status in American society as the most respected and admired scientist and public policy advisor of his generation, He even read Henry James’s short story “The Beast in the Jungle” after appearing on the cover of Time and Life magazines.
Oppenheimer was thoroughly disillusioned by this tale of passion and tormented egoism in which the protagonist is haunted by premonitions that he was being held “for something rare and strange, possibly prodigious and terrible, which sooner or later will happen.” It will happen.”
To be.” Whatever it was, he knew it would “overwhelm” him.
As the tide of anti-communism rose in post-war America, Oppenheimer began to sense that “a beast in the jungle” was following him. His Appearances Before Red-Hunting Congressional Investigative Committees, The FBI Tapped Him Outrageous stories about home and office phones, their political past, and policy
The endorsements in the press made him feel like a victim. His left-wing activities at Berkeley during the 1930s, along with his post-war resistance to Air Force plans for large-scale strategic bombing with nuclear weapons—plans he called genocide—led FBI director J.J. This angered many powerful Washington insiders, including Edgar Hoover and Lewis Strauss.
That evening, at the Georgetown home of Herbert and Anne Marks, they considered their options. Herbert was not only his lawyer but also one of his closest friends. and Herbert’s wife, Anne Wilson Marks, was once his secretary at Los Alamos. That night Anne observed that he seemed to be in an “almost hopeless state of mind”.
Nevertheless, after much discussion, Oppenheimer concluded, Perhaps as much in resignation as in his firm belief that, no matter how big the case, he could not let the charges go without being challenged.
So, with Herb’s guidance, he drafts a letter addressed to “Dear Louise”. In it, Oppenheimer said that Strauss had encouraged him to resign. “You have probably put before me a desirable alternative that I request the termination of my contract as a consultant to [nuclear energy].
commission, and thus avoid a clear consideration of the charges. , Oppenheimer said he had seriously considered this option.
But “under the circumstances,” he continued, “this action would mean that I accept and agree with the view that I am not fit to serve this Government, that I have now served for nearly twelve years.”
I can’t do it. If I were so unfit, I could hardly have served our country as I have tried, or become the director of our Institute [for Advanced Study] at Princeton, or have spoken, as on more than one occasion I have found myself speaking in the name of our science and our country.
|No. of Pages||842|
|PDF Size||5.5 MB|
American Prometheus PDF Free Download