Periodically, with a quote from Oppenheimer (""I was an unctuous, repulsively good little boy""), this stilted, deferential biography brightens up and comes down to earth; overall it doesn't approach his incisiveness of thought and precision of language and expression. Propositions are not always reasonable (""Because Julius [Oppenheimer's father] believed in man's worth, his dignity, and his possibilities, he naturally grew interested in the Ethical Culture Movement""); explanations are not always provided (""One of Oppenheimer's philosophical tenets was Bohr's principle of complementarity""). There are repeated examples of his brilliance from childhood on, demonstrations of his charisma and unconventionality; there is also enough about the Los Alamos period to give a sense of what life was like. The way the security question is handled makes Oppenheimer largely a victim of circumstances; in this respect the Davis Lawrence and Oppenheimer, while certainly sympathetic, is much more penetrating. Which brings us to the fundamental objection--what is the value of knowing the circumstances of Oppenheimer's life without the psychological and intellectual extension in such as Lawrence and Oppenheimer, a highly readable account that won't swamp the bright adolescent, the only one who'd be interested in the man anyhow.