In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer


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In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer


(OPPENHEIMER, J. Robert) . In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Volume I: Transcript of Hearing before Personnel Security Board. Washington, D.C. April 12, 1954, through May 6, 1954. Volume II: Texts of Principal Documents and Letters of Personnel Security Board General Manager Commissioners. Washington, D.C. May 27, 1954, through June 29, 1954. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1954. Two volumes. Octavo, original printed tan wrappers; pp. 993, pp. 67. Housed together in a custom chemise and clamshell box.

First edition of the Atomic Energy Commission publication of the transcript of the Gray Board hearing on Oppenheimer's security clearing, along with the supporting "Texts and Principal Documents," containing select and still controversial 1954 documents and correspondence in the AEC decision to strip Oppenheimer’s security clearance—a "black mark" on America."

Deemed the "father of the atomic bomb," Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, in the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, "became the principal spokesman for a broader public understanding of atomic science and technology" (ANB). In the early 1950s, targeted by Atomic Energy Commission chairman Strauss, the FBI's Hoover and Joseph McCarthy, Oppenheimer faced demands that his security clearance be withdrawn. On May 23, 1954, the Gray Board of the AEC, "deemed Oppenheimer a loyal citizen who was nevertheless a security risk." As evidenced by the four factors in that decision, printed here, "their reasoning was tortured." On hearing of the decision to rescind Oppenheimer's security clearance, "Einstein, disgusted, quipped that henceforth the AEC should be known as the 'Atomic Extermination Conspiracy'…the agony and humiliation that Oppenheimer endured in 1954 were not unique during the McCarthy era. But as a defendant, he was America's Prometheus" (Bird & Sherwin, 540-46, xi). As noted by Ward Evans, whose dissenting opinion to the ruling appears here, the AEC decision stands as "a black mark" on America.

This first edition contains the edited transcript of the hearings (an unredacted text was not published for 60 years) and Texts of Principal Documents, "containing documentation on the Oppenheimer case." When Oppenheimer's lead attorney Garrison belatedly learned of the Texts—with no previous AEC notice—he promptly wrote AEC chairman Strauss, expressing anger over bias in the omission of certain documents from Texts that would have assured a "close public examination which the national interest requires." In many ways, this publication achieved perhaps the opposite of its intent. Rather than quelling dispute over the AEC decision, publication of the Transcript and the Texts ensured ongoing debate over Oppenheimer and the Cold War, by what was selectively revealed in its pages and what was hidden. Owner signatures on front wrappers.

Text generally fine, only minor soiling and toning to fragile wrappers. Near-fine condition.

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