Kai Bird : Oppenheimer Is Relevant to Countries Like Nepal

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Kai Bird : Oppenheimer Is Relevant to Countries Like Nepal

Pokhara/ On the third day of the 11th edition of the Nepal Literature Festival, the first session featured a conversation with Kai Bird, an author and columnist best known for his work “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” a 2005 biography of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the leader of the Manhattan Project which produced the first nuclear weapons.

The conversation, conducted by veteran journalist Kunda Dixit, revolved around various aspects of Bird’s books and Christopher Nolan’s movie, “Oppenheimer,” based on Bird’s book. Pulitzer Prize winner Bird, during the conversation, highlighted the relevance of both the movie and the book to countries like Nepal.

“Here in Nepal, your neighbors India, China, and Pakistan indeed possess dangerous nuclear weapons,” says Bird. “Currently, countries like North Korea, Pakistan, India, Israel, France, and England have dangerous weapons. We live in a very dangerous time.”

“I am thankful to Christopher Nolan for making the movie and drawing attention to such an important issue,” he adds.

During the conversation, Bird also shared how he transitioned from being a journalist to a biographer. He mentioned that he stumbled into biography almost by accident, deciding to write a book which eventually turned into a biography.

“I fell in love with the genre,” he expressed. According to Bird, biography is the most powerful vehicle for conveying history. Additionally, he recounted how he became involved in a book co-authored by Martin J. Sherwin. He mentioned that he simply tagged along with Sherwin to write the book. “Sherwin started the book in 1980 and spent 20 years researching. Then he came to me and asked me to join,” recalled Bird. He noted that the collaboration with Sherwin turned out to be great, though it took five years of his time to bring the book to publication.

Furthermore, Bird shared details about Robert Oppenheimer’s love for literature. “He loved the poetry of T.S. Eliot, John Donne. He admired the novels of Ernest Hemingway,” said Bird. “In the late 1930s, he became curious about Hindu scripture. He learned Sanskrit so that he could study the Bhagavad Gita in its original script.”