This is a fascinating dive into both Oppenheimer and the human psyche. Robert Jay Lifton proves himself to be an Oppenheimer commentator who has true knowledge, insight, and understanding, even admitting that “had I been a physicist at the time I would have readily joined that crusade.” A thought-provoking take that goes beyond the narrative into the complexities of humanity.
Underneath Oppenheimer’s promethean capacities was a vulnerable and at times deeply distraught human being. He could be needy and contradictory in his relationships with others and subject to periodic depression. During his early adult life he was at times suicidal and on at least two occasions violent toward others: He poisoned an apple of a Cambridge tutor (we do not know how much poison he used) who insisted that he engage in hated laboratory work, and on another occasion attempted to strangle a friend who told him of love and plans for marriage.