Martin Sherwin, award-winning Oppenheimer biographer, dies at 84


Reviewing “American Prometheus”, Janet Maslin of the New York Times described it as “a voluminous work of scholarship and lucid insight, unifying his multifaceted portrayal with a keen understanding of the essential nature of Oppenheimer.”

This nature, she wrote, expressed itself as “charm and bravado on the surface, Dostoevskian darkness below.”

Martin Jay Sherwin was born July 2, 1937 in Brooklyn to Harold and Mimi (Karp) Sherwin. His father was a manufacturer of children’s clothing and his mother was a housewife who worked as a secretary to help pay her son’s school fees.

After graduating from James Madison High School, he enrolled in Dartmouth with the intention of pursuing a career in medicine, then became interested in geology and philosophy. He ended up obtaining a bachelor’s degree in history in 1959.

He served in the Navy as an intelligence officer in Japan and Hawaii, then received a doctorate in diplomatic history in 1971 from the University of California, Los Angeles. His thesis became the basis of “A Destroyed World,” his first book, which suggested that President Harry S. Truman’s decision to use atomic weapons had less to do with ending the war than with intimidation. of the Soviets.

In 1980, Dr Sherwin joined the faculty of Tufts University, where he established the Nuclear Age History and Humanities Center. He and Evgeny Velikhov, a Russian physicist, set up a project in which students and scholars from Tufts and Moscow State University came together over satellite TV. Dr Sherwin retired from Tufts in 2007 as Professor Emeritus. He also taught at George Mason and Princeton Universities.

In addition to his wife, Susan (Smukler) Sherwin, he is survived by a son, Alex; one sister, Marjorie Sherwin; and four grandchildren. Her daughter, Andrea Sherwin, died of cancer in 2010.

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