Ecco: HarperCollins. Oct. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780062851963. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062851994. F
Robert Oppenheimer, creator of the atomic bomb, put science front and center in his life, though he was conflicted about other things—his Communist friends, his love life, and the testing and use of atomic bombs in general. Hall (Speak) begins with a prolog from the FBI agent assigned to follow him in the days before the testing of the first atomic bomb, followed by testimonials from seven different narrators reflecting on what they knew of Oppenheimer at different times in his life. The narrators all reveal something of their own lives while chronicling their relationship with Oppenheimer. Using real events to frame the narrative, Hall creates visceral vignettes using science, history, and biography to create three-dimensional characters pouring forth their own stories. An anorexic secretary, a reporter suffering from a marital breakup, a colleague's lover, and a Communist expatriate friend in Paris are some of the people providing the brushstrokes resulting in a brilliant canvas revealing life's complexities and the enigmatic character who inspired the narrative.
VERDICT Readers who enjoy fiction concerning real people and general readers of fiction will enjoy this book. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/9/18.]
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