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Press Release

For more information, contact Steve Meeker at Black Hills State University, 605-642-6288

The atomic bomb was created more than 70 years ago, however, its relevance is no less than it was in 1945.

The Black Hills State University Madeline Young Speaker Series will host Pulitzer Prize winning authors Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin to discuss the atomic bomb and its creator, J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Bird and Sherwin will speak on their book, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.” The event is at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 15 in the Clare & Josef Meier Recital Hall on the BHSU campus. The event is free and open to the public.

“American Prometheus” is the biography of Oppenheimer, who directed the development of the atomic bomb.

“Oppie, as we call him, is a seminal figure in American history,” Bird said. “His life was endlessly mysteries and colorful.”

Bird and Sherwin will discuss Oppenheimer’s life and career. After the completion of the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer was featured on the covers of Time and Life magazines. Bird dubbed him as “America’s most famous scientist.”

But nine years later, his career was destroyed by an investigation into his politics and personal life by the Atomic Energy Commission. Oppenheimer became a nonentity, Bird said.

“Anyone interested in American history, international relations and the nuclear issue will enjoy the presentation,” Sherwin said. “Why do we have so many nuclear weapons and what are they for?”

The Madeline A. Young Distinguished Speaker Series at BHSU was established in 1986 by a gift endowment from Madeline Young, a 1924 alumna.

The distinguished speaker series was initiated at the University in 1987, with an address by former United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. Other Madeline Young Speakers have included: Terry Waite, former hostage, hostage negotiator and envoy for England’s Archbishop of Canterbury; Felix Justice and Danny Glover, actors; Sam Donaldson, television broadcaster; Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winner; Lech Walesa, former Polish president; Annabelle Gurwitch, host of a national reality show that encourages green living; Alexandra Fuller, author of The Legend of Colton H. Bryant”; and Vinny Guadagnino from MTV’s hit reality show “Jersey Shore.”