In April 1962, President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy hosted forty-nine Nobel Prize winners — along with many other prominent scientists, artists, and writers — at a famed White House dinner. Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, was the most controversial guest, having lost his security clearance in 1954. Oppenheimer was ostracized from participating in the official discussions of the use of atomic energy and was a target for conservative critics who saw him as soft on communism—if not worse. The dinner represented the beginning of his redemption in official Washington.
Not only a fascinating story, this evening, held at the height of the Cold War, had historical repercussions. The dinner symbolized a time when intellectuals were esteemed, divergent viewpoints could be respectfully discussed at the highest level, and the great minds of an age might all dine together in the rarefied glamour of “The People’s House.”
Joseph A. Esposito, author of the new book, Dinner in Camelot: The Night America’s Greatest Scientists, Writers, and Scholars Partied at the Kennedy White House, will speak at Updike Farmstead in honor of the anniversaries of this impressive dinner and Oppenheimer’s birth.
Free; please register at www.princetonhistory.org. Books will be available for $25, cash only.