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The man who wasn’t there

Ray Monk's biography of Oppenheimer, the father of the atom bomb, is a heroic failure, says Will Self

By Will Self   January 2013

Oppenheimer with General Groves at the Trinity test site in 1945 (photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Inside the Centre: The Life of J Robert Oppenheimer by Ray Monk (Jonathan Cape, £30)

On 6th August 1945, the Enola Gay, a B29 Superfortress—christened, some might feel a little grotesquely, after its pilot Colonel Paul Tibbets’s mother—dropped the world’s first offensive atomic bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” from an altitude of 32,000 feet on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. This single act of aggression resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000…

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