July 1, 2023

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin

The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors record Robert Oppenheimer’s remarkable life in fascinating detail with many subtle insights applicable to high-achieving investment teams. As the “father of the atomic bomb,” Oppenheimer’s historic success at Los Alamos began with a strong intellectual foundation and thirst for a wide range of knowledge. He was the most celebrated theoretical physicist of his time (and worked with Einstein, Feynman, Bohr, Dyson, etc.), but it was his ability as a charismatic leader to bring out the best in others that led to the Manhattan Project’s (MP) success. Perhaps it was his love for psychology that allowed him to successfully interact with difficult and/or different people such as the MP’s military leader General Leslie Groves. We think the best investment leaders often exhibit many of Oppenheimer’s best traits: raw intelligence, passion, ambition, and humility.

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