Wilson Center Experts
Martin J. Sherwin is University Professor of History at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Before moving to GMU in 2007 he was the Walter S. Dickson Professor of English and American History at Tufts University for 27 years. His recent book, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (with Kai Bird) won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for biography, the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography and the English Speaking Union Book Award, and has been praised by several accredited booklists and critics.
Professor Sherwin has been recognized as a distinguished lecturer. In 1985, and again in 1986, The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education awarded him its “Professor of the Year, Silver Medal Award.” He was also the founding director and executive producer of the innovative Global Classroom Project, a 'space bridge' program that employed TV satellite technology to link his students at Tufts with university students in Moscow for interactive discussions about the nuclear arms race and the environment. Sherwin has been an advisor for many documentary films on the history of the nuclear age, and was the co-executive producer and NEH Project Director of the PBS documentary film, “Citizen Kurchatov: Stalin’s Bomb Maker" (1999).
Professor Sherwin has held appointments as the Cardozo Fund Visiting Professor of American History at Yale University and as the Barnette-Miller Visiting Professor of International Relations at Wellesley College. He has been on the faculties of U.C. Berkeley, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Cornell Universities. In 1994 he was appointed "Honorable UNESCO Professor of Humanities" at Mendeleyev University in Moscow, Russia. In 2007 Bowling Green State University awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Humanities.
This project is intended to break new ground as a panoramic history of the nuclear arms race to the Cuban Missile Crisis and beyond, 1945-2012. Set in the broad sweep of the U.S-Soviet nuclear arms competition, this will be the first book to capture the seminal event of the nuclear age – the event that pushed the world to the edge of the nuclear abyss – with a focus on those who were pushing the hardest. The central theme of "Gambling" is that the long straight road to the crisis, and the complex consequences that emerged from it, governed the U.S-Soviet relations far more than has generally been recognized. The ideas that led to the crisis, and the confused and conflicting array of lessons taken from it, cannot be exaggerated as influences on how nuclear weapons were seen and valued to the end of the Cold War to the present.
- American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (with Kai Bird). (New York, A.A. Knopf, 2005);
- A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance (NewYork; Alfred A. Knopf, 1975);
- "J. Robert Oppenheimer: The Silencing of Dissent," (with Kai Bird), The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 15, 2005