Sherwin, Martin J. 1937-

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Sherwin, Martin J. 1937-

(Martin Jay Sherwin)


Born July 2, 1937, in Brooklyn, NY; married, 1963; children: two. Education: Dartmouth College, B.A., 1959; University of California at Los Angeles, Ph.D., 1971.


Home—Washington, DC. Office—History Department, Tufts University, Upper Campus Rd., East Hall, Room 10, Medford, MA 02155. E-mail—[email protected]


Historian, educator, and writer. University of California, Berkeley, acting research professor of history and lecturer, 1967-71; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, lecturer and research associate, 1973-80; Tufts University, Medford, MA, adjunct professor in Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, 1980-89, founding director of Nuclear Age History and Humanities Center, 1986-93, Walter S. Dickson professor of history, 1995—. Dartmouth College, 1993-95, adjunct professor of history and film studies, professor of liberal studies, and director of John Sloan Dickey Center. Visiting professor, University of Pennsylvania, 1979-80; Cardozo Fund Visiting Professor of American History, Yale University, 1980; Barnette-Miller Visiting Professor of International Relations, Wellesley College, 1983-84; has also taught U.S. history at Cornell University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Advisor for documentary films on history of the nuclear age, including The Day after Trinity: A History of Nuclear Strategy, and the thirteen-part PBS series War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Society of American Historians, Phi Beta Kappa (honorary).


Regents fellow, University of California, 1966-67; grant-in-aid, Harry S. Truman Foundation, 1968, 1977; research grant, Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Humanities and Social Science, 1973-74; Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize from Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, American History Book Prize from National Historical Society, National Book Award nomination from National Institute for Arts and Letters, and Pulitzer Prize finalist, all 1976, all for A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance; Rockefeller Foundation fellowship, 1978-79; Professor of the Year Silver Medal Award, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, 1985, 1986; Guggenheim fellowship, 1986; George Kistiakowsky Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1988-89; research and writing grant, MacArthur Foundation, 1991; UNESCO Distinguished Professor of Humanities, 1995; National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, and Pulitzer Prize in biography, both 2006, both for American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.


A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance, Knopf (New York, NY), 1975, reprinted, with new author introduction, as A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and the Origins of the Arms Race, Vintage Books (New York, NY), 1987, 3rd edition, with foreword by Robert J. Lifton, published as A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and Its Legacies, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2003.

(With Kai Bird) American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Knopf (New York, NY), 2005.


Martin J. Sherwin is a professor of history at Tufts University and the founding director of Tufts's Nuclear Age History and Humanities Center. He is also the founding director and executive producer of the Global Classroom project, in which U.S. students are linked by satellite to students in Moscow so that they can have discussions about current events and major world issues. He also served on the advisory board for the cancelled Enola Gay Exhibit that was to be on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Sherwin has worked on a number of documentary films that pertain to the history of the nuclear age, including a thirteen-part series for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) titled War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.

Sherwin's American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer tells the story of Oppenheimer's role in the development of the first atomic bomb during World War II, but it also looks at Oppenheimer's personal life, his childhood and upbringing, his marriage, and his experiences following the war, when he was weighed down by the tragedies that resulted from the use of his discoveries. Harvey Klehr, writing for the Weekly Standard, remarked of the book: "Well-written, enjoyable to read, and filled with insights about twentieth-century physics, the development of the atomic bomb, and postwar American foreign policy, it too quickly attributes base motives to people genuinely concerned with the Soviet threat, and fails to treat Oppenheimer's travails as largely of his own making." USA Today contributor Michael Jacobs also found some flaws with the book, remarking that "a little more levity would have helped…. Perhaps spending twenty-five years on one biography, as Sherwin did, forces a more serious tone than living under the threat of nuclear annihilation." On the other hand, Library Journal contributor Greg Sapp called Sherwin's effort "an expansive but fast-paced and engrossing work that draws its strength from the insights provided into Oppenheimer's thoughts and motives and the many anecdotes." Bill Ott, in a contribution for Booklist, commented on the way Oppenheimer suffered backlash from being the one to promote nuclear weaponry, despite his having contributed to the end of the war. Ott commented that the "irony as well as the ambiguity and tortured emotions behind it are captured in all their intensity in this compelling life story." American Scientist contributor David A. Hollinger declared American Prometheus "a comprehensive biography, the best single book ever written about Oppenheimer."



America, June 6, 2005, Kelly Cherry, "Tested by Fire," p. 27.

American Scientist, January-February, 2006, David A. Hollinger, "Life in a Force Field," p. 68.

Arms Control Today, July-August, 2005, Peter J. Kuznick, "A Tragic Life: Oppenheimer and the Bomb," p. 37.

Booklist, March 1, 2005, Bill Ott, review of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, p. 1100; April 1, 2005, Bill Ott, "Oppie's Gadget," p. 1333; December 1, 2005, Donna Seaman, review of American Prometheus, p. 20.

Bookwatch, September, 2005, review of American Prometheus.

Economist, July 23, 2005, "Destroyer of Worlds: Robert Oppenheimer," p. 76.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), May 21, 2005, Chris Scott, "Oppie the Engima," p. D5.

Foreign Affairs, May-June, 2005, Lawrence D. Freedman, review of American Prometheus, p. 136.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2005, review of American Prometheus, p. 205.

Library Journal, April 15, 2005, Gregg Sapp, review of American Prometheus, p. 115.

New Republic, October 17, 2005, Daniel J. Kevles, review of American Prometheus, p. 35.

New Yorker, December 8, 1975.

New York Times Book Review, May 15, 2005, "Nuclear Options," p. 7.

Publishers Weekly, March 7, 2005, review of American Prometheus, p. 63.

Science News, June 11, 2005, review of American Prometheus, p. 383.

SciTech Book News, September, 2005, review of American Prometheus.

Time, May 9, 2005, Richard Lacayo, "The Atomic Meltdown: Two Vivid Accounts of What Robert Oppenheimer Did for the U.S., and the Price He Paid," p. 68; April 10, 2006, Lev Grossman, Richard Lacayo, review of American Prometheus, p. 81.

USA Today, April 21, 2005, Michael Jacobs, "Discover the Thinking behind the Unthinkable," review of American Prometheus, p. D5; March, 2006, Gerald F. Kreyche, review of American Prometheus, p. 80.

Weekly Standard, June 6, 2005, Harvey Klehr, review of American Prometheus, p. 31.


New York Sun Online, (April 13, 2005), Carl Rollyson, "Burned by His Own Flame."

Tufts University Web site, (July 25, 2006), faculty profile of Sherwin.

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Sherwin, Martin J. 1937-

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