Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Copenhagen” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  3,437 Ratings  ·  222 Reviews
For most people, the principles of nuclear physics are not only incomprehensible but inhuman. The popular image of the men who made the bomb is of dispassionate intellects who number-crunched their way towards a weapon whose devastating power they could not even imagine. But in his Tony Award-winning play Copenhagen, Michael Frayn shows us that these men were passionate, p ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 8th 2000 by Anchor (first published 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Copenhagen, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Copenhagen

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
- So what did you think?

- I liked it! A lot of really interesting historical stuff about the Bohr/Heisenberg/Schrödinger triangle. And I just had no idea about Heisenberg's involvement in the Nazi nuclear project. Fascinating. Can't imagine how I missed reading about that earlier.

- Ah, come on George, surely you got more out of it than that?

- Well, okay, okay, it was technically pretty impressive too. The way he uses quantum mechanics as a sustained metaphor throughout. I didn't think he'd be a
(view spoiler)

Revisit 2015 comes from watching 'Saboteurs 2015', which is a modern telling of the Telemark/heavy water nail-biting incident.

This TV film of Frayn's play stars Daniel Craig, Francesca Anis, Stephen Rea, superbly done, and fully recommended.

Apr 09, 2014 Edward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 5-star, uk-ireland, plays

Nov 02, 2016 Anna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theatre
Δυο καλοί φίλοι και συνάδελφοι, ο Νιλς Μπορ - Δανός φυσικός και διευθυντής του Ινστιτούτο Θεωρητικής Φυσικής της Κοπεγχάγης και ο Βέρνερ Χάιζενμπεργκ - Γερμανός φυσικός, που πέρασε τα πιο δημιουργικά του χρόνια στην Κοπεγχάγη. Ο Μπορ ήταν ο μέντορας του Χάιζενμπεργκ. Ο Χάιζενμπεργκ είναι Γερμανός και ο Μπορ έχει εβραϊκές ρίζες.

Ο Χάιζενμπεργκ επισκέπτεται το Μπορ στην Κοπεγχάγη στο σπίτι του, προκειμένου να συζητήσουν για ένα θέμα που τον απασχολούσε ιδιαιτέρως. Μετά από αυτή τη συνάντηση, οι δυ
Sep 19, 2009 notgettingenough rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern-lit
What a play. As I watched it I knew I had to see it again but wouldn't be able to as the season was booked out. As it was, the night we went our seats were on the stage. A peculiar experience.

Still, it meant I bought the book the next day. Gleefully grabbed by one of the people I went with before I could blink, so I hope that gives you an idea of how dense and yet magnetic this play is.

Milica Chotra
Aug 18, 2012 Milica Chotra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you're interested in history of science and WW2, especially physics and atomic bomb, I can't recommend it highly enough. Of course, this is a work of fiction and Frayn knows nothing about quantum mechanics, but still... it's interesting, informative and cleverly written.

Why did Heisenberg go to Copenhagen in 1941?

The Idea. "The idea for Copenhagen came to me out of my interest in philosophy. It was when I read a remarkable book
Connie  Kuntz
Feb 05, 2011 Connie Kuntz rated it it was amazing
For Valentine's Day, Jesse gave me an uninterrupted hour to read Copenhagen and write the review. I'm running out of time, so this will be quick, which, coincidentally, is one of the major themes of the play. Anyway, here goes:

Copenhagen is a delightful play about physics. It is fun to think about and gratifying to imagine. I'm confident it would be an honor to stage this play and I am confident I would be thrilled to serve as the dramaturg on such a production. All that said, I (for once) have
Jan 13, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Carey
Drama on 3:
Benedict Cumberbatch, Greta Scacchi and Simon Russell Beale star in Michael Frayn's award-winning play about the controversial 1941 meeting between physicists Bohr and Heisenberg, part of a joint Radio 3 and Radio 4 series of three Michael Frayn dramas for radio - including new adaptations of his novels, 'Skios' and 'Headlong'.

Being a physicist myself, this dialog between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg was widely discussed during my graduation studies.

For further information, please
Mitchell Hahn-Branson
In 1941, German physicist Werner Heisenberg made a clandestine trip to have dinner with his friend, Danish physicist Niels Bohr, and his wife, Margrethe. They were two of the absolute best scientists in their field—this was the same Heisenberg who had formulated the Uncertainty Principle—and they had challenged each other to do some of their very best work. But Heisenberg was a patriotic German who was now working, probably with some reluctance, under the Nazis; Bohr, who was half-Jewish, would ...more
Apr 01, 2012 Pooriya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play
نمایشنامهای در مورد فیزیک اتمی و بمب اتم! نیلز بور و ورنر هایزنبرگ و مارگارت (همسر بور) مُردهاند و اکنون در عالم ارواح شاید در حال صحبت با هم هستند. درمورد آخرین ملاقات بور و هایزنبرگ در سال 1941 در کوپنهاگ. ملاقاتی که بر سر اشغال دانمارک (کشور بور) توسط آلمان (کشور هایزنبرگ) به تیرگی روابط دوستانه این دو فیزکدان میشود.
در کل نمایشنامه پر از فلشبکهای متعدد به سالها و ملاقاتهای مختلف است و توضیح کامل پیدایش بمب اتم و آزمایش آن چند ماه قبل از هیروشیما و بالاخره فاجعهی بزرگ هیروشیما. ترس متفقین از ا
Sep 04, 2013 Nicki rated it liked it
Shelves: tony
There are plenty of living room dramas in the world, so I certainly can't begrudge this play being something entirely different / but that also doesn't change the fact that 70% of this play felt like attending a quantum mechanics lecture. I couldn't help but picture Frayn poring over physics books and quantum theory papers, which is not something I really want to imagine when I'm reading/viewing a play. I actually actively hate when I can see a playwright in the writing of play, however unfair t ...more
Jan 30, 2010 R rated it really liked it
I'm kind of fascinated by the history of science, in particular by the lives of the various actors involved. You know, those whose significance in the grand scheme of things (as far as most are concerned) is exclusively defined by the work they have done. They were brilliant minds, lofty and untouchable to the likes of me. But above all they were human, with all the requisite failings and ambiguities, and when considered as such they become so much more fascinating -- which is why I picked up Co ...more
Uttara Srinivasan
Nov 05, 2016 Uttara Srinivasan rated it really liked it
Almost 4.5 stars

At one point in the play Bohr says to Heisenberg- and I paraphrase - don't assume that because my country is a smaller piece of land compared to yours, that in do feel the same sense of patriotism to it that you do. To this Heisenberg replies later in the same conversation - don't assume my need to defend my country is any weaker just because I know it is in the wrong.

This is the essence of the conflict that two eminent scientists with giant leap contributions to modern physics
Paul ataua
Sep 11, 2016 Paul ataua rated it really liked it
I have been listening to few old plays this weekend and this one really touched me. It’s the story of German physicist Werner Heisenberg’s visit to Danish physicist Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in 1941. The two had worked on quantum mechanics and revolutionized atomic physics in the past, but now the world had changed and the two men were on opposite sides in a world war and Denmark was under German occupation. The story focuses on physics and the atomic bomb, but most of all on relationships and et ...more
I'll come back and write a proper review for the book once I manage to disentangle my thoughts on it. For the moment the only coherent thing I can say is: read it! The play and then - and this is an imperative to really "get" it - the two postscripts. Just read it.

[eda Oct 2015:] And now that I have finally seen it on stage I can only repeat what I said before: read it.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Oct 22, 2008 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it liked it
Shelves: read08
I wish this had come with stage directions, because it was difficult to understand some of the dialogue without knowing how they were interacting (or not) on stage. Interesting subject, first act was much better than the second, I thought the author was trying too hard to make quantum mechanics match the possibilities of what happened at Bohr's home.
Mar 27, 2017 Zioluc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teatro

Pièce teatrale a sfondo scientifico e morale uscita nel 1998 e rappresentata con grande successo.

Nel 1941 Werner Heisenberg viaggia dalla Germania nazista alla Danimarca occupata per parlare con il suo vecchio collega e maestro Niels Bohr. Cosa si dissero i due mostri sacri della fisica? Negli anni in cui la guerra mondiale spingeva verso la realizzazione di un'arma atomica e la fisica nucleare faceva passi da gigante i due scienziati potevano parlare del comportamento delle particelle come di r
Jul 31, 2010 Aaron rated it it was ok
For a Tony Award winning work (Best Play, 2000) Copenhagen didn't really impress me. The story seemed interesting enough; there isn't much action, which is ok for a play, and the stakes are rather high. I was distracted early on, however, by the encumbering use of breaking the 4th wall. This is a useful device, but in the beginning of the play the action seemingly flits back and forth without warning. Those who regularly read plays would be easily confused by this random shifting, to say nothing ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
May 11, 2011 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, theatre
Heisenbergs line sums this the essence of the work up brilliantly:

Complementarity, once again. I'm your enemy; I'm also your friend. I'm a danger to mankind; I'm also your guest. I'm a particle; I'm also a wave. We have one set of obligations to the world in general, and we have other sets, never to be reconciled to our fellow countrymen... All we can do is to look afterwards, and see what happened.

This is I feel the premise and emotion garnered from this work. I do not know if personally I wou
Oct 18, 2010 Natalie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's a play that is based on an event that occured in Copenhagen in 1941. It was a meeting between physicists Bohr and Heisenberg. Nobody knows exactly what was said or what transpired in that meeting. Bohr stormed away from whatever Heisenberg was trying to tell him and nobody knows exactly what Heisenberg was trying to say, or what Bohr thought he was saying.

Heisenberg insisted that he was telling Bohr that he had moral objections to building a bomb for Germany and
I snapped up this celebrated play by Michael Frayn to relax from the more strenuous books I'm working through. His A Landing on the Sun was one of the highlights of past reading year. Copenhagen zooms in on the mysterious wartime encounter between nuclear physicist Werner Heisenberg and his former colleague and mentor Niels Bohr. About the motives behind Heisenberg's decision to travel to Denmark there remains a lot of speculation. Frayn brings the event tentatively into relief as one of those k ...more
Sep 29, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing
The play "Copenhagen" is all about theoretical nuclear physics and the fallibility of memory and human relationships. The author is Michael Frayn. Frayn wrote the wildly funny play "Noises Off" which is all about doors and sardines and actors in their underwear. In "Copenhagen" Frayn assembles the ghosts of Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr and Bohr's wife Margrethe to explore the question of why the two physicists met in Denmark in 1941. They were on opposite sides of the Second World War; Heisenbe ...more
Jul 21, 2008 Judine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steve Carroll
Dec 03, 2014 Steve Carroll rated it it was amazing
fantastic play about Heisenberg and Bohr's meeting after Germany has taken over Denmark and several views on what really happened. Heisenberg was the head of the German nuclear program during WWII and Bohr defected to America to work on the Manhattan project afterwards. Takes the physics seriously (more than "it's uncertain! GET IT?!") but also works as drama. Really enjoyed the postscript where the playwright delves into the research he did to write the play.
Aug 14, 2016 Charlene rated it really liked it
This was a Copenhagen interpretation of a different kind. The play seeks to understand why Heisenberg went to Bohr's house in 1941. The playwright provides a decided interpretation to a long held question, and it's filled with all the positive and negative aspects that can simultaneously fill up an intention. I loved this play! Yet another great little enjoyment in this series. Whoever came up with the idea to put together a series of science themed plays is just amazing. I thank them!
Mar 23, 2008 Kelley rated it did not like it
Maybe I just know way more about nuclear physics and famous physicists (which is still not all that much) than readers of this play are supposed to, but this was really awful.
I think I could have written something more or less equivalent in about an hour's work.
I know the play has been critically acclaimed, but apparently, I'm missing the boat.
I picked up this audio play because it has Alfred Molina. It is very entertaining, heartbreaking, and sometimes funny play about the question of morality. You do not have to be a scientist or a mathematician to enjoy the play. The performances are well done.
Oct 08, 2015 Sebadiaz rated it it was amazing
Amazing play which is worth a read (as well as seeing it live) but the book even adds a little science history as well as Frayn's own history of researching the play in the afterword. Can recommend to anyone but especially to any one interested in physics and natural science.
The best play I've seen. After hearing the reviews from England, was fortunate enough to catch it at Broadway about a month after it first opened. And the screenplay includes an excellent 40-page non-fiction history of quantum mechanics and Heisenberg.
Mar 13, 2015 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
A fantastic stripped-down play that examines friendship, disagreement, and motive.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Invention of Love
  • The Lieutenant of Inishmore
  • Assassins
  • A Bright Room Called Day
  • On Another Man's Wound
  • Three Tall Women
  • Incident at Vichy
  • Superior Donuts
  • Gem of the Ocean
  • The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes
  • The Clean House and Other Plays
  • Backwards and Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays
  • The Lady's Not for Burning
  • 'Art'
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Seven Plays: Buried Child / Curse of the Starving Class / The Tooth of Crime / La Turista / Tongues / Savage Love / True West
  • Private Lives
Michael Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy. His novels, such as Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong and Spies, have also been critical and commercial successes, making him one of the handful of writers in the English language to succeed in both drama and prose fiction. His works often rais ...more
More about Michael Frayn...

Share This Book

“Some questions remain long after their owners have died. Lingering like ghosts. Looking for the answers they never found in life.” 5 likes
“Bohr: Heisenberg, I have to say - if people are to be measured strictly in terms of observable quantities...

Heisenberg: Then we should need a strange new quantum ethics.”
More quotes…