Parallel Lives? Oppenheimer and Khariton

Chapter 6 in Reappraising Openheimer: Centennial Studies and Reflections, edited by Cathryn Carson and David A. Hollinger (Office for History and Science of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, 2005).

The editors write: "From the beginning all the way up to the present, the Soviet nuclear weapons project has served as foil for the American effort. It preoccupied Robert Oppenheimer's minders in the Manhattan Project, fixated by the possibility of espionage; it drove his postwar attempts to achieve international control of atomic weapons just as surely as it lit up his opponents' mistrust of his stance on the hydrogen bomb. Throughout the arms race, Soviet progress vis-a-vis American weapons production helped drive the dynamic of the Cold War. More recently, Soviet and post-Soviet sources have inspired careful reanalysis of the dual courses of the two nations' nuclear projects. That effort has shed new light on the conditions under which Oppenheimer's wartime labors could find the conclusion they did. . . .

"David Holloway explores parallels between Robert Oppenheimer and his Soviet counterpart, Iulii Khariton. Similarities in background and differences in role make Holloway's contrast instructive."