... the history of the twentieth century gives us such great dramatic characters and such amazing faces to go with them. Robert Oppenheimer; director and mastermind behind the WWII 'Manhattan Project'. The builder of the first Atomic Bomb. Perhaps- only he- processed both the genius and charisma to pull together and relentlessly drive the world's greatest scientific minds toward an ultimate weapon to end the war.
But history and popular culture would reveal him as a complex and classic character worthy of a Greek tragedy. For even as he witnessed the test of the first bomb in New Mexico he was feeling growing moral misgivings about the technological wonder he had created. Hiroshima and Nagasaki weighed heavily on his conscience and the stockpiling of bigger and better weapons drew his disapproval and protest. Eventually his peacenik leanings caused him to be a 'security risk' and locked him out of the very nuclear laboratories he had created.
But how could it have been otherwise? How could this man who championed the building of 'The Bomb' be anything but a haunted character. How could he, and we, not be troubled by the unleashing of powers of ominous and God-like proportion.
What if he had been mean, and dark, and smoked big cigars as he cackled over the triumph of his will? What fable and fairytale would that have taught humanity?
Would humanity be alive today if the father of the atomic bomb did not have such haunted eyes?
photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt