Decoding “Oppenheimer” lecture by Karl Boyd Brooks

Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St., Lawrence, KS 66044

Karl Boyd Brooks, professor at the University of Kansas School of Public Affairs and Administration and author of Beyond Earth Day: The Origins of American Environmental Law, 1945–1970, will deliver a public lecture on “Decoding ‘Oppenheimer’: Understanding the Movie’s People, Places, and Politics.”

The blockbuster movie “Oppenheimer” introduces a dizzying cast of scientists and politicians, sweeps between Washington, DC, and New Mexico, and plunges into a quarter-century of American crisis and triumph.  Most viewers aren’t historians of the Cold War, the Manhattan Project, or postwar culture, so the movie deserves decoding.

This lecture offers a primer about “Oppenheimer’s” key characters, surveys the political tensions generated by America’s World War II alliance with the Soviet Union, and tours Land of Enchantment sites where the Bomb was invented and first detonated.

Dr. Karl Brooks has written and taught about mid-century American environment and politics for 25 years.  He held one of the highest federal security classifications during the Obama Administration.  And he lived and worked in New Mexico for nearly 15 years, before returning to teach at KU.

Who should attend?  Anyone curious about why 6 of the 8 Manhattan Project’s scientific leaders were Jewish, how Robert Oppenheimer (played by Cillian Murphy) persuaded General Groves (played by Matt Damon) to build the Bomb in New Mexico then said Los Alamos should be “given back to the Indians,” and why Robert Downey, Jr., (playing Lewis Strauss) corrected Oppenheimer’s pronunciation of his last name.

If you saw the movie, and left with questions, or plan to see the movie for the first time – or again – this lecture is for you!

PEOPLE: Strauss, Rabi, Szilard, Bohr, Teller, Richard Rhodes, Roger Robb, William Borden, Hispanos, Pueblo Indians, Jean Tatlock, Gordon Gray, General Groves, Ernest Lawrence

PLACES: Los Alamos, Trinity Site, Española, Jemez Mountains, Pajarito Plateau pueblos, Closson’s gas station, Lamy Station, Santa Fe, Cambridge

POLITICS: Truman and the Red Scare, 1930s left politics, USSR/USA wartime alliance, Cold War 1947, AEC advisory committee, Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy