• Tuxedo Park

  • A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II
  • By: Jennet Conant
  • Narrated by: John Kroft
  • Length: 13 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (80 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This is the untold story of an eccentric Wall Street tycoon and the circle of scientific geniuses he assembled before World War II to develop the science for radar and the atomic bomb. Together they changed the course of history.

In the late 1930s, legendary financier, philanthropist, and society figure Alfred Lee Loomis gathered the most visionary scientific minds of the 20th century - Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, and others - at his state-of-the-art laboratory in Tuxedo Park, New York. He established a top-secret defense laboratory at MIT and personally bankrolled pioneering research into new, high-powered radar detection systems that helped defeat the German Air Force and U-boats. With Ernest Lawrence, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, he pushed Franklin Delano Roosevelt to fund research in nuclear fission, which led to the development of the atomic bomb.

Jennet Conant, the granddaughter of James Bryant Conant, one of the leading scientific advisers of World War II, enjoyed unprecedented access to Loomis' papers, as well as to people intimately involved in his life and work. She pierces through Loomis' obsessive secrecy and illuminates his role in assuring the Allied victory.

©2002 Jennet Conant (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about Tuxedo Park

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  • Overall
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Fantastic book, weak technical execution

Book is very interesting and unique.
Narrator is easy to listen to. But, their are quite a few mispronunciations and the editing is quite sloppy- odd timing and many occasions of the talent clearing his throat, etc. seems like the B team did the edit.

5 people found this helpful

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Can’t Get to the Point

It’s one aside after another and never gets to the point.

It’s a painful, hard listen and I could only make it to the 2nd chapter.

It’s all expository and a life history of minor characters and just doesn’t get to the point. It’s like the Bible or a 3rd grade book report - the book is just “this man was the son of this person who was the son of this person and husband of this person and someone in the family had tuberculosis and there was depression in the family.” You’ll hear such stunning revelations as “He was much like his father. But more so.”

If you’re buying this to hear about a group of scientific geniuses you’re going to be VERY, VERY disappointed.

The narrator isn’t terrible but there is an obvious lack of knowledge of the people he is talking about. He pronounces “Vannevar Bush” as “Van-eever” and calls Erwin Schrödinger “shrō-ding-ar”

This is one of the worst books with the most misleading title I’ve ever had the displeasure of listening to.

1 person found this helpful

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Slow start but great lesson on the birth of radar

So it really is technology, risk, perseverance, dedication, patience… such traits that invoke change on a large scale.

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Mr. Loomis, WWII’s man behind the scene

Excellent biography of Alfred Loomis. Assuming the research is accurate, he was truly an American Patriot in the mold of our founding fathers.

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A Fantastic Read

Just simply one of the best discoveries in books I have ever made. Wonderful time.

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One of the most interesting books!

The story line, the details, the technology, the history, the Loomis...all awesome! We'll done Jennet.

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Amazing and Largely Unknown History

I did not really know what to expect when I started listening to this book, but I'm sure glad I did. The story of the life of Alfred Loomis, largely unknown, is just amazing. He was a great lawyer, an incredible investment banker (he and his partner basically financed the early development of the utility industry), and knew to sell out just before the crash. His wealth let him finance his true passion: science. He was an even better scientist (and an organizer of scientists). That's the heart of the book, and I won't spoil it for you, but the number of important inventions that he created or helped create is just astonishing. Would we have won World War II without him? Maybe, but it's hard to say. Oh, and he also owned most of Hilton Head.

One of the most instructive aspects of Loomis' life was his willingness to finance and assist other scientists. If he saw talent and and interesting subject, he would make sure (through his personal wealth and connections) that money was not an issue. He helped advance the careers of many important scientists. At the same time, he was personally involved in a lot of the projects, even though he often tried to avoid taking credit.

It takes a little while to get into the book, but once you do, it moves along nicely. Two nits: 1. The author tries to wrap the story from the very beginning around a novel by a relative who committed suicide and had some ties to Loomis. To me, this was not an effective literary device, but simply distracting. 2. The narration is generally OK, but there are a lot of mispronunciations.

There is a PBS American Experience piece on Tuxedo Park that makes a nice accompaniment. You can find it on the Internet.

Worth your time.

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Fantastic book about one of America’s unsung heroes

The book jumps around chronologically, but the wealth of information and unbiased portrayal of Dr. Loomis outweighs this minor inconvenience.