James W. Kunetka To Lecture Apr. 18 On Los Alamos As Oppenheimer’s Greatest Legacy

Historian James W. Kunetka will speak at Duane Smith Auditorium Apr. 18. Courtesy photo


James W. Kunetka, leading historian of Oppenheimer and the wartime creation of the Los Alamos Laboratory, will speak on “Los Alamos:  Robert Oppenheimer’s Greatest Legacy” at the Duane Smith Auditorium on April 18 at 7 p.m., co-sponsored by the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee and the Los Alamos Historical Society. 

Kunetka’s talk is part of the Oppenheimer Committee’s celebration of its 50 years of honoring Oppenheimer’s influence on the city he founded.  

Kunetka is a renowned writer about the development of the atomic bomb.  He is the author of City of Fire: Los Alamos and the Birth of the Atomic Age, 1943-1945; Oppenheimer: The Years of Risk (focusing on his complex public life from 1943 to 1954); and The General and the Genius:  Groves and Oppenheimer–The Unlikely Partnership That Built the Atom Bomb. 

His writing portfolio includes fiction as well as history. His four novels include the New York Times’ best seller Warday, written with Whitley Strieber. He served as Associate Vice President at the University of Texas at Austin until his retirement.

Kunetka’s talk will address the questions: Why is Oppenheimer so fascinating?  What is the importance of his creation of the Los Alamos laboratory?

In answering these questions, Kunetka said, “You cannot understand or appreciate the last half of the twentieth century without studying Robert Oppenheimer and the laboratory he created. Together, they played a critical role in forging modern American history.”

Kunetka’s talk will provide insights into Oppenheimer and his shaping of modern science. The event is free and open to the public.

The public is also invited to visit “A Legacy of Learning: The J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee 50th Anniversary Exhibit” that is now showing at the Step Up Gallery at Mesa Public Library until April 24.  This multi-faceted show includes photos of many JROMC lecturers and scholarship winners, two life-size replicas of “Oppie” for selfies, unusual photos of him as a child, photos from his wife Kitty’s albums donated to the JROMC, “Do You Know” quizzes for fun and enlightenment.  

Currently there is new momentum for restoring Oppenheimer’s lost security clearance, which was unjustly stripped from him in 1954.  Now 25 senators are backing a petition to reverse this decision.

For more information about the JROMC’s many activities, visit our website, www.JROMC.org.