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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 25, 2007

'Oppenheimer is Watching Me' will be released Oct. 1 by UI Press

"Oppenheimer is Watching Me," a chronicle of America's atomic past by University of Iowa faculty member Jeff Porter, will become available Oct. 1 from the UI Press.

When Porter discovered that his father worked on missiles for a defense contractor, he was inspired to revisit that era, and in particular J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb. The result, "Oppenheimer Is Watching Me," is a mixture of memoir and history that takes readers back to the cold war, when men in lab coats toyed with the properties of matter and fears of national security troubled our sleep.

Other historical figures he portrays include Francis Gary Powers, whose U2 spy plane was shot out from under him in the skies over the Soviet Union, and Fidel Castro, whom the CIA plotted to kill or, at least, strip of his beard.

Paul S. Boyer, author of "By the Bomb's Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age," wrote, "With humor, psychological insight, and bold imaginative leaps, Jeff Porter memorably evokes the experience of growing up during the cold war with its penumbra of political paranoia, nuclear menace, and radiation fears.

"Personal memories, family history, classical mythology, quantum physics, and public events flow together in a brilliantly illuminating way. 'Oppenheimer Is Watching Me' gripped me at once, and I read it with mounting admiration and engagement. This memoir is valuable not only for the way it bears witness to a fast-receding era but also as a commentary on the terrors of our own day and the toll they are taking on our spirit."

Porter teaches in the UI English Department, where he specializes in literary nonfiction, documentary film and digital media, with particular emphasis on science and technology. He offers classes on radio and video essays, documentary writing and filmmaking, postmodernism and the history of the essay.

"Oppenheimer Is Watching Me," part of the Sightline Books series of literary nonfiction, is available for sale at bookstores or directly from the University of Iowa Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa may order from the Eurospan Group online at

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Allison Thomas, UI Press, 319-335-2015,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),