The Manhattan Project

Cold War

Stanislaus Ulam's Interview (1979)

Stanislaus Ulam: You know, after forty-five years in this country, my accent is still very hard.

Martin Sherwin: That’s all right. I still have a Brooklyn accent.

Ulam:  Oh, you do?

Sherwin: I left Brooklyn twenty years ago. I think even though I do know a lot of the answers to some of the questions I’m going to ask you from your book—

Ulam:  Yes.

Norris Bradbury's Interview - Part 2

Martin Sherwin: Okay, this is the middle of an interview with Norris Bradbury.

Norris Bradbury: The fact that I wasn’t particularly involved in these discussions, of the type which the Federation of Atomic Scientists started—they started here, of course. I suppose I was committed to running a laboratory and trying to get people to stay here, while I was not uncommitted to international control of nuclear weapons, for heaven’s sakes. No one could be.

Verna Hobson's Interview - Part 2

Martin Sherwin: Was there a lot of effort to trying to figure out the psychology that the people who were sitting in judgement [at J. Robert Oppenheimer’s security hearing] would have? That “They will probably be thinking this, so therefore we should do that?” Do you recall any of that?

Verna Hobson: No. I remember that after the first—they came back, I suppose, the weekend in the middle of the hearings. I think they had a few days, and then they came back, and then they went to Washington again for the rest of it.

Jean Bacher's Interview

Jean Bacher: Ruth Valentine said, “I shall take Ruth [Tolman]’s desk.” She always saved letters. She had marvelous long letters from Robert, you know, especially at the time of the hearings. I knew they were just terribly close and shared a great deal. On the drawer of the desk, she’d said, “Destroy these.”

Martin Sherwin: You saw it happen? 

Bacher: I didn’t see her burn it, because at that time we still burned and they just threw them out in the burner in the back yard.

St. John, VI

Though not a Manhattan Project location, the island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands played an important role in the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Soon after he was stripped of his security clearance in the infamous Atomic Energy Commission hearing, Oppenheimer and his wife Kitty began spending time on the island. They bought a strip of land in the Hawksnest area from the Gibney family, and built a house there. Robert and Kitty became fixtures of island social life, throwing parties on a regular basis.

Joseph Rotblat's Interview

Martin Sherwin: This is an interview with Professor Joseph Rotblat, R-O-T-B-L-A-T, at his office in London. Well it really was quite a production. Seven hours!

Joseph Rotblat: Yes, oh yes, quite a production.

Sherwin: I thought Sam Waterston played a marvelous part.

Rotblat: Who?

Sherwin: The person who played [J. Robert] Oppenheimer.

Marvin Goldberger's Interview

Martin Sherwin: President Goldberger, Marvin Goldberger of California Institute of Technology at Caltech in Pasadena, March 28, 1983. This is Martin Sherwin.

This is something obviously I should have done three years ago back in Princeton when you had more time, etc.

Marvin Goldberger: That’s all right. I have plenty of time.

Sherwin: You first met [J. Robert] Oppenheimer after the war, right?

Edward Purcell's Interview

Martin Sherwin: I think the opportunity to talk to somebody who served with him on the Harvard—

Edward Purcell: Oh, Harvard, that was the thing. No, this episode I was remembering, which must have been the spring of 1953, when Oppie [J. Robert Oppenheimer] was on the Board of Overseers. At that time, we’d had some trouble in the Congressional investigations in our department. Particularly Wendell Furry, my colleague there, was under fire and had testified before the Jenner Committee or something like that.

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