Oppenheimer’s Award-Winning Biographer Martin Sherwin dies at 84

review Janet Maslin of The New York Times described “American Prometheus” as “a work of comprehensive science and clear insight, combining its multifaceted portrait with a keen insight into Oppenheimer’s essential nature.”

This nature, he wrote, expressed itself “attractiveness and bravado on the surface, in Dostoevsky darkness below.”

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

After graduating from James Madison High, he enrolled at Dartmouth to pursue a career in medicine, then majored in geology and philosophy. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1959.

He served in the Navy as an intelligence officer in Japan and Hawaii, then earned a doctorate in diplomatic history from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1971. His doctoral thesis became the basis for President Harry S. Truman’s first book, A World Destroyed, which argued that the decision to use atomic weapons was more about ending the war than scaring the Soviets.

In 1980, Dr. Sherwin joined Tufts University’s faculty, where he founded the Center for Nuclear Age History and Humanities. He and Russian physicist Evgeny Velikhov project Students and academics at Tufts and Moscow State University met through satellite TV. Dr. Sherwin retired from Tufts as professor emeritus in 2007. He also taught at George Mason and Princeton Universities.

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

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