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Category: World War II

Program cover shows two hands holding a small globe, which is filled by a red atomic mushroom cloud

“Dr. Atomic,” The Oppenheimer Opera

Posted by: Neely Tucker

When the San Francisco Opera debuted “Doctor Atomic,” an opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams based on physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the test of the first atomic bomb, its first lines contained a scientific error. Marvin L. Cohen, president of the American Physical Society, was in the audience and caught it immediately. Here's how he and Adams changed it.

Three Marines, all Navajo Code Talkers, pose with weapons in a World War II photo

World War II’s Navajo Code Talkers, In Their Own Words

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Some of the U.S. military's best intelligence assets during both World Wars were Native American troops who used their own, unwritten languages as the basis for coded radio messages. These Code Talkers, particularly Navajo Marines, were invaluable in the Pacific theater of World War II. Twenty-nine Navajo Code Talkers were later awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Many of these soldiers' personal stories are preserved in the LIbrary's Veterans History Project.

Black and white photo of several men, some in military uniform, inspecting a pile of ashes

Oppenheimer: The Library’s Collection Chronicles His Life

Posted by: Neely Tucker

The stunningly complete, intellectually voracious files of J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, are preserved at the Library. The files fill more than 300 boxes that occupy a line of files that would stretch, if stacked end to end, more than 120 feet. That’s not including more than 70 boxes of research files compiled over 20 years by Martin J. Sherwin for his part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.” (Kai Bird shared the Pulitzer as a co-writer.) Those stretch another 27 feet. The files tell his epic life story in granular detail.

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Madeleine Albright: A Life of Courage and Commitment

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, died today in Washington at the age of 84. The cause was cancer, her family said.. Albright, who donated her papers to the Library in 2014, was a key figure in the administration of Bill Clinton, serving both as ambassador to the United Nations and then as Secretary of State during his second term. Outspoken to the end, she wrote an essay for the New York Times in late February warning about the effects of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. She included her notes from her first meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, more than two decades ago: "Putin is small and pale...so cold as to be almost reptilian."

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

World War II: The Debut of G.I. Joe

Posted by: Neely Tucker

David Breger, a successful freelance cartoonist, drafted into the Army in 1941, created the "Private Breger" cartoon during his off-duty hours at Camp Livingston. Once it caught on, the name (but little else) was changed to "G.I. Joe." From there, it became a cultural icon.