top of page

ESG Intersections: Burns, Oppenheimer, and The Last of the Mohicans

A few material events of this week in the literary world include the anniversary of the passing of Robert Burns, a Scottish poet and lyricist who is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland.

Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759, in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland. He is best known for his poetry written in the Scots language and for his contributions to Scottish folk music.

Burns began writing poetry at an early age and gained recognition for his work in the late 18th century. Some of his most famous works include "Auld Lang Syne," "To a Mouse," "Tam o' Shanter," and "A Red, Red Rose." His poems often reflect themes of love, nature, politics, and the struggles of ordinary people and the wealth disparities of the time.

Unfortunately, Robert Burns' life was relatively short. He died on July 21, 1796, at the age of 37, in Dumfries, Scotland. Despite his relatively brief life, his impact on Scottish literature and culture has been profound, and his legacy continues to be celebrated worldwide. Each year on January 25, his birthday, Scots and poetry enthusiasts around the world gather to commemorate him in an event known as Burns Night.


Earlier today, CBC published an article highlighting the war at the box office this weekend between Barbie and the maker of the atom bomb, a.k.a. Barbenheimer. Note the parallels between the films, and the reference to Los Alamos. Given current events and wars, from the wars of or on the sexes i.e. gender disparity to the more serious armed conflict of our era, both topics are most material in the world of ESG and current cultural affairs. You may find it useful to gather additional literature on either topic, or perhaps even both as you curate your library of rare finds and knowledge artifacts.

The article provides a summary of Robert Oppenheimer's life and his involvement in the development of the atomic bomb. Here are the key points, as summarized by GPT:

  1. Robert Oppenheimer, known as the "father of the atomic bomb," was a physicist who played a crucial role in the Manhattan Project during World War II.

  2. Born in 1904 in a wealthy New York family, Oppenheimer graduated from Harvard University with a major in chemistry in 1925.

  3. He pursued further studies in Germany and became an exceptional theoretical physicist, working at the University of California, Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology.

  4. In 1942, General Leslie R. Groves asked Oppenheimer to join "Project Y," a secret laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, tasked with developing the world's first atomic bombs.

  5. Oppenheimer became the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory in 1943, overseeing the construction and recruitment of top physicists for the atomic bomb development.

  6. The first successful nuclear test, codenamed Trinity, took place on July 16, 1945, in the Jornada del Muerto desert.

  7. After the war, Oppenheimer left Los Alamos and took up a position at CalTech in 1947. He opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb, which led to controversy during the Cold War era.

  8. In the 1950s, anti-Communist hysteria and security investigations impacted Oppenheimer's reputation and career. He was denied security clearance but later had this decision reversed by President Joe Biden's administration in 2022.

  9. Oppenheimer received recognition and honors later in life, including an invitation to a White House dinner and the Fermi Award from President Lyndon B. Johnson.

  10. Robert Oppenheimer passed away on February 18, 1967, due to throat cancer.

  11. The article mentions that Oppenheimer's story is back in the news due to a biopic titled "Oppenheimer," directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Cillian Murphy and other prominent actors.

  12. The release of the film has drawn attention to the legacy of Oppenheimer and the need for environmental cleanup at the Los Alamos nuclear research facility.

Interestingly, last week we were so lucky to welcome books from flight lieutenant and professor Iser Steiman's private collection, in which we also found The Effects of Atomic Weapons, written under the direction of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. If you'd like to check it out, please get in touch!


Last but not least, as we take a walk down memory lane about our own heritage and culture, and begin to understand that of other companies, such as that of E.C. Rare Books and The Old English Bindery, located in Vancouver, Canada but originating from London, England, we begin to uncover the rare finds of history: the stories of "the lasts" and their struggle for culture preservation. The Last of the Mohicans, A Narrative of 1757, published in 1826, a red 3 volume set bound in reddish brown Morocco, is a rare first English edition available at E.C. Rare Books.

The title "The Last of the Mohicans" refers to one of the main characters in James Fenimore Cooper's novel. The last of the Mohicans is a character named Chingachgook. He is a Native American of the Mohican tribe and is the father of another key character, Uncas.

Throughout the novel, it becomes apparent that Chingachgook is the last surviving member of his tribe, hence the title "The Last of the Mohicans." The Mohicans, an Algonquian-speaking Native American tribe, had a significant presence in the region, but by the time the events of the novel take place, their population had dwindled due to conflicts with European settlers and other tribes.

Chingachgook's son, Uncas, is also referred to as the "last of the Mohicans" in the sense that he is the last pure-blooded Mohican of his generation. Uncas' death in the novel marks the end of the direct Mohican lineage, leaving Chingachgook as the sole surviving representative of his people.

The title not only serves to highlight the character of Chingachgook but also emphasizes the larger theme of the decline of Native American cultures and the impact of European colonization on indigenous populations during that historical period.

From an ESG to Impact (Net Positive) perspective, can you identify the most pressing material issues affecting you or your company at this point in time? What sources do you draw knowledge about these topics from, and are they the right ones? And based on this assessment, how do you allocate capital to minimize risk and externalities, as well as capture your greatest opportunities for impact based on what you know and do best?

Give us a shout if you'd like to explore these concepts and talk to our latest Beta product: #ESGPT, backed by our own rare collection (#ZeAcademy) in the making, with support from our Special Collectors.


23 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page