In Atomic Culture, eight scholars examine the range of cultural expressions of atomic energy from the 1940s to the early twenty-first century, including comic books, nuclear landscapes, mushroom-cloud postcards, the Los Alamos suburbs, uranium-themed board games, future atomic waste facilities, and atomic-themed films such as Dr. Strangelove and The Atomic Kid.
Despite the growing interest in atomic culture and history, the body of relevant scholarship is relatively sparse. Atomic Culture opens new doors into the field by providing a substantive, engaging, and historically based consideration of the topic that will appeal to students and scholars of the Atomic Age as well as general readers.
Contributors include Michael A. Amundson, Mick Broderick, Peter Goin, John Hunner, Ferenc M. Szasz, A. Costandina Titus, Peter C. van Wyck, and Scott C. Zeman.
The Baneberry Disaster covers the calamitous December 1970 Baneberry underground nuclear test that pumped nearly 7 million curies of radiation into the atmosphere, caused the suspension of nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site for six months, and whose radioactive cloud exposed 86 test-site workers to radiation, two of whom died of leukemia less than four years later.
The authors are attorneys from Las Vegas who spent 25 years pursuing a lawsuit for the victims at Baneberry. The story begins in 1971, just after the Baneberry test vented, and takes the reader through the years leading up to the trial, the 41-day trial in 1979, and the multiple appeals following the trial. It discusses the claims and lawsuits filed by others exposed to atomic testing, and the congressional investigations that led to the enactment of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act in 1990.
On January 27, 1951, the first atomic weapon was detonated over a section of desert known as Frenchman Flat in southern Nevada, providing dramatic evidence of the Nevada Test Site's beginnings. Fifty years later, author A. Costandina Titus reviews contemporary nuclear policy issues concerning the continued viability of that site for weapons testing. Titus has updated her now-classic study of atomic testing with fifteen years of political and cultural history, from the mid-1980s Reagan-Gorbachev nuclear standoff to the authorization of the Nevada Test Site Research Center, a Desert Research Institute facility scheduled to open in 2001. In this second edition of Bombs in the Backyard, Titus deftly covers the post-Cold War transformation of American atomic policy as well as our overarching cultural interest in all matters atomic, making this a must-read for anyone interested in atomic policy and politics.
China’s approach to nuclear deterrence has been broadly consistent since its first test in 1964, but it has recently accelerated nuclear force modernization. China’s strategic environment is likely to grow more complex, and nuclear constituencies are gaining a larger bureaucratic voice. Beijing is unlikely to change official nuclear policies but will probably increase emphasis on nuclear deterrence and may adjust the definition of key concepts.
Critical Masses and Critical Choices examines American attitudes on issues of national and international security. Based on over 13,000 in-depth interviews conducted over a ten-year period, Kerry Herron and Hank Jenkins-Smith have created a unique and rich set of data providing insights into public opinion on nuclear deterrence, terrorism, and other security issues from the end of the Cold War to the present day. Their goal is to shed light not only on changes in public opinion about a range of security-related policy issues, but also to gauge the depth of the public’s actual understanding of these matters. Prior to this study, the predominant view held that the American people were incapable of articulate and consistent thought on complex political subjects. This book overturns that notion and demonstrates the sometimes surprisingly cogent positions held by ordinary members of the public on intricate national issues.
The book’s solid data, based on long-term studies, combined with crisp writing and often startling conclusions, will appeal to a wide range of readers: scholars, journalists, and policy makers. Critical Masses and Critical Choices is the definitive account of the change in public perceptions on security threats and reactive strategies from the early 1990s to the post 9/11 period. This broad and highly original study will prove an indispensable tool for policy makers and scholars alike.
A timely interdisciplinary study that applies psychoanalysis and the rhetorical tradition of the sublime to examine the cultural aftermath of the Atomic Age
Every culture throughout history has obsessed over various “end of the world” scenarios. The dawn of the Atomic Age marked a new twist in this tale. For the first time, our species became aware of its capacity to deliberately destroy itself. Since that time the Bomb has served as an organizing metaphor, a symbol of human annihilation, a stand-in for the unspeakable void of extinction, and a discursive construct that challenges the limits of communication itself. The parallel fascination with and abhorrence of nuclear weapons has metastasized into a host of other end-of-the-world scenarios, from global pandemics and climate change to zombie uprisings and asteroid collisions.
Desiring the Bomb: Communication, Psychoanalysis, and the Atomic Age explores these world-ending fantasies through the lens of psychoanalysis to reveal their implications for both contemporary apocalyptic culture and the operations of language itself. What accounts for the enduring power of the Bomb as a symbol? What does the prospect of annihilation suggest about language and its limits? Thoroughly researched and accessibly written, this study expands on the theories of Kenneth Burke, Jacques Lacan, Sigmund Freud, and many others from a variety of disciplines to arrive at some answers to these questions.
Calum L. Matheson undertakes a series of case studies—including the Trinity test site, nuclear war games, urban shelter schemes, and contemporary survivalism—and argues that contending with the anxieties (individual, social, cultural, and political) born of the Atomic Age depends on rhetorical conceptions of the “real,” an order of experience that cannot be easily negotiated in language. Using aspects of media studies, rhetorical theory, and psychoanalysis, the author deftly engages the topics of Atomic Age survival, extinction, religion, and fantasy, along with their enduring cultural legacies, to develop an account of the Bomb as a signifier and to explore why some Americans have become fascinated with fantasies of nuclear warfare and narratives of postapocalyptic rebirth.
Stephen M. Meyer steps back from the emotions and rhetoric surrounding the nuclear arms debates to provide a systematic examination of the underlying determinants of nuclear weapons proliferation. Looking at current theories of nuclear proliferation, he asks: Must a nation that acquires the technical capability to manufacture nuclear weapons eventually do so? In an analysis, remarkable for its rigor and accessibility, Meyer provides the first empirical, statistical model explaining why particular countries became nuclear powers when they did. His findings clearly contradict the notion that the pace of nuclear proliferation is controlled by a technological imperative and show that political and military factors account for the past decisions of nations to acquire or forgo the development of nuclear weapons.
Between 1951 and 1962 the Atomic Energy Commission triggered some one hundred atmospheric detonations of nuclear weapons at the Nevada Test Site. U.S. military troops who participated in these tests were exposed to high doses of radiation. Among them was a young Marine named Leonard Bird. In Folding Paper Cranes Bird juxtaposes his devastating experience of those atomic exercises with three visits over his lifetime—one in the 1950s before his Nevada assignment, one in 1981, and one in the early 1990s—to the International Park for World Peace in Hiroshima.
Among the monuments to tragedy and hope in Hiroshima’s Peace Park stands a statue of Sadako Sasaki holding a crane in her outstretched arms. Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on her city; she was diagnosed with leukemia ten years later. According to popular Japanese belief, folding a thousand paper cranes brings good fortune. Sadako spent the last months of her young life folding hundreds of paper cranes. She folded 644 before she died.
As he journeys from the Geiger counters, radioactive dust, and mushroom clouds of the Nevada desert to the bronze and ivory memorials for the dead in Japan, Bird—himself a survivor of radiation-induced cancer—seeks to make peace with his past and with a future shadowed by nuclear proliferation. His paper cranes are the poetry and prose of this haunting memoir.
Friendly Fallout 1953
Ann Ronald University of Nevada Press, 2011 Library of Congress PS3568.O56583F75 2010 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Friendly Fallout 1953 is a hybrid work of literature that combines the actual history of aboveground atomic testing in the Nevada desert in 1953 with fictional vignettes that explore the impact of the tests on the people who participated in them and on civilian "downwinders." The book brings to life a turbulent era when Cold War fears, patriotic enthusiasm, scientific progress, and unacknowledged political agendas often collided with the welfare of ordinary citizens and the environment.
Are NATO’s mutual security commitments strong enough today to deter all adversaries? Is the nuclear umbrella as credible as it was during the Cold War? Backed by the full range of US and allied military capabilities, NATO’s mutual defense treaty has been enormously successful, but today’s commitments are strained by military budget cuts and antinuclear sentiment. The United States has also shifted its focus away from European security during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and more recently with the Asia rebalance. Will a resurgent Russia change this?
The Future of Extended Deterrence brings together experts and scholars from the policy and academic worlds to provide a theoretically rich and detailed analysis of post–Cold War nuclear weapons policy, nuclear deterrence, alliance commitments, nonproliferation, and missile defense in NATO but with implications far beyond. The contributors analyze not only American policy and ideas but also the ways NATO members interpret their own continued political and strategic role in the alliance.
In-depth and multifaceted, The Future of Extended Deterrence is an essential resource for policy practitioners and scholars of nuclear deterrence, arms control, missile defense, and the NATO alliance.
Are nuclear arsenals safe from cyber-attack? Could terrorists launch a nuclear weapon through hacking? Are we standing at the edge of a major technological challenge to global nuclear order? These are among the many pressing security questions addressed in Andrew Futter’s ground-breaking study of the cyber threat to nuclear weapons.
Hacking the Bomb provides the first ever comprehensive assessment of this worrying and little-understood strategic development, and it explains how myriad new cyber challenges will impact the way that the world thinks about and manages the ultimate weapon. The book cuts through the hype surrounding the cyber phenomenon and provides a framework through which to understand and proactively address the implications of the emerging cyber-nuclear nexus. It does this by tracing the cyber challenge right across the nuclear weapons enterprise, explains the important differences between types of cyber threats, and unpacks how cyber capabilities will impact strategic thinking, nuclear balances, deterrence thinking, and crisis management. The book makes the case for restraint in the cyber realm when it comes to nuclear weapons given the considerable risks of commingling weapons of mass disruption with weapons of mass destruction, and argues against establishing a dangerous norm of “hacking the bomb.”
This timely book provides a starting point for an essential discussion about the challenges associated with the cyber-nuclear nexus, and will be of great interest to scholars and students of security studies as well as defense practitioners and policy makers.
In the spring of 1945 the Allies arrested the physicists they believed had worked on the German nuclear programme. Interned in an English country house owned by MI6, their conversations were secretly recorded. Operation Epsilon sought to determine how close Nazi Germany had come to building an atomic bomb. It was in this quiet setting – Farm Hall, near Cambridge – that the interned physicists first heard of the attack on Hiroshima. Aside from changing the course of history, that night was also one of great shock and personal defeat for the physicists – they were under the assumption that they alone had discovered nuclear fission. This is the story of Nazi Germany’s hunt for a nuclear bomb. It is a tale of the genius and guilt of lauded, respected scientists.
North Korea is perilously close to developing strategic nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States and its East Asian allies. Since their first nuclear test in 2006, North Korea has struggled to perfect the required delivery systems. Kim Jong-un’s regime now appears to be close, however. Sung Chull Kim, Michael D. Cohen, and the volume contributors contend that the time to prevent North Korea from achieving this capability is virtually over; scholars and policymakers must turn their attention to how to deter a nuclear North Korea. The United States, South Korea, and Japan must also come to terms with the fact that North Korea will be able to deter them with its nuclear arsenal. How will the erratic Kim Jong-un behave when North Korea develops the capability to hit medium- and long-range targets with nuclear weapons? How will and should the United States, South Korea, Japan, and China respond, and what will this mean for regional stability in the short term and long term? The international group of authors in this volume address these questions and offer a timely analysis of the consequences of an operational North Korean nuclear capability for international security.
Once dismissed as ineffectual, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has in the past twenty years emerged as a powerful international organization. Member states allow the IAEA to render judgment on matters vital to peace and security while nations around the globe comply with its rules and commands on proliferation, safety, and a range of other issues.
Robert L. Brown details the IAEA’s role in facilitating both control of nuclear weapons and the safe exploitation of nuclear power. As he shows, the IAEA has acquired a surprising amount of power as states, for political and technological reasons, turn to it to supply policy cooperation and to act as an agent for their security and safety. The agency’s success in gaining and holding authority rests in part on its ability to apply politically neutral expertise that produces beneficial policy outcomes. But Brown also delves into the puzzle of how an agency created by states to aid cooperation has acquired power over them.
What drove Nobel-winning physicist Hans Bethe, head of Theoretical Physics at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project, to later renounce the weaponry he had worked so tirelessly to create? That is one of the questions answered by Nuclear Forces, a riveting biography of Bethe’s early life and development as both a scientist and a man of principle.
Jeremy Bernstein Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress TP159.C4B47 2014 | Dewey Decimal 623.45119
This succinct book is timely reading for anyone who wishes to understand the maze of science and secrecy at the heart of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Writing for the general reader, Jeremy Bernstein draws on his knowledge as a physicist to elucidate the scientific principles and technical hurdles involved in creating nuclear reactors and bombs.
Gabriele Schwab University of Minnesota Press, 2020 Library of Congress PN56.N83 | Dewey Decimal 355.021701
A pioneering examination of nuclear trauma, the continuing and new nuclear peril, and the subjectivities they generate
Amid resurgent calls for widespread nuclear energy and “limited nuclear war,” the populations that must live with the consequences of these decisions are increasingly insecure. The nuclear peril combined with the looming threat of climate change means that we are seeing the formation of a new kind of subjectivity: humans who are in a position of perpetual ontological insecurity. In Radioactive Ghosts, Gabriele Schwab articulates a vision of these “nuclear subjectivities” that we all live with.
Focusing on the legacies of the Manhattan Project, Hiroshima, and nuclear energy politics, Radioactive Ghosts takes us on a tour of the little-seen sides of our nuclear world. Examining devastating uranium mining on Native lands, nuclear sacrifice zones, the catastrophic accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima, and the formation of a new transspecies ethics, Schwab shows how individuals threatened with extinction are creating new adaptations, defenses, and communal spaces. Ranging from personal accounts of experiences with radiation to in-depth readings of literature, film, art, and scholarly works, Schwab gives us a complex, idiosyncratic, and personal analysis of one of the most overlooked issues of our time.
The Cold War forced scientists to reconcile their values of internationalism and objectivity with the increasingly militaristic uses of scientific knowledge. For decades, antinuclear scientists pursued nuclear disarmament in a variety of ways, from grassroots activism to transnational diplomacy and government science advising. The U.S. government ultimately withstood these efforts, redefining science as a strictly technical endeavor that enhanced national security and deeming science that challenged nuclear weapons on moral grounds “emotional” and patently unscientific. In response, many activist scientists restricted themselves to purely technical arguments for arms control. When antinuclear protest erupted in the 1980s, grassroots activists had moved beyond scientific and technical arguments for disarmament. Grounding their stance in the idea that nuclear weapons were immoral, they used the “emotional” arguments that most scientists had abandoned. Redefining Science shows that the government achieved its Cold War “consensus” only by active opposition to powerful dissenters and helps explain the current and uneasy relationship between scientists, the public, and government in debates over issues such as security, energy, and climate change.
Scientists at War
Sarah Bridger Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress Q125.B728 2015 | Dewey Decimal 174.96234
Sarah Bridger examines the ethical debates that tested the U.S. scientific community during the Cold War, and scientists’ contributions to military technologies and strategic policymaking, from the dawning atomic age through the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) in the 1980s, which sparked cross-generational opposition among scientists.
No single figure embodies Cold War science more than the renowned physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Although other scientists may have been more influential in establishing the institutions and policies of the nuclear age, none has loomed larger in the popular imagination than the “father of the atomic bomb.” Americans have been drawn to the story of the Manhattan Project Oppenheimer helped lead and riveted by the McCarthy-era politics that caught him in its crosshairs. Journalists and politicians, writers and artists have told Oppenheimer’s story in many different ways since he first gained notoriety in 1945. In Storytelling and Science, David K. Hecht examines why they did so, and what they hoped to achieve through their stories. From the outset, accounts of Oppenheimer’s life and work were deployed for multiple ends: to trumpet or denigrate the value of science, to settle old scores or advocate new policies, to register dissent or express anxieties. In these different renditions, Oppenheimer was alternately portrayed as hero and villain, establishment figure and principled outsider, “destroyer of worlds” and humanist critic. Yet beneath the varying details of these stories, Hecht discerns important patterns in the way that audiences interpret, and often misinterpret, news about science. In the end, he argues, we find that science itself has surprisingly little to do with how its truths are assimilated by the public. Instead its meaning is shaped by narrative traditions and myths that frame how we think and write about it.
A "second nuclear age" has begun in the post-Cold War world. Created by the expansion of nuclear arsenals and new proliferation in Asia, it has changed the familiar nuclear geometry of the Cold War. Increasing potency of nuclear arsenals in China, India, and Pakistan, the nuclear breakout in North Korea, and the potential for more states to cross the nuclear-weapons threshold from Iran to Japan suggest that the second nuclear age of many competing nuclear powers has the potential to be even less stable than the first.
Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age assembles a group of distinguished scholars to grapple with the matter of how the United States, its allies, and its friends must size up the strategies, doctrines, and force structures currently taking shape if they are to design responses that reinforce deterrence amid vastly more complex strategic circumstances. By focusing sharply on strategy -- that is, on how states use doomsday weaponry for political gain -- the book distinguishes itself from familiar net assessments emphasizing quantifiable factors like hardware, technical characteristics, and manpower. While the emphasis varies from chapter to chapter, contributors pay special heed to the logistical, technological, and social dimensions of strategy alongside the specifics of force structure and operations. They never lose sight of the human factor -- the pivotal factor in diplomacy, strategy, and war.
On the road to Survival City, Tom Vanderbilt maps the visible and invisible legacies of the cold war, exhuming the blueprints for the apocalypse we once envisioned and chronicling a time when we all lived at ground zero. In this road trip among ruined missile silos, atomic storage bunkers, and secret test sites, a lost battleground emerges amid the architecture of the 1950s, accompanied by Walter Cotten’s stunning photographs. Survival City looks deep into the national soul, unearthing the dreams and fears that drove us during the latter half of the twentieth century.
“A crucial and dazzling book, masterful, and for me at least, intoxicating.”—Dave Eggers
“A genuinely engaging book, perhaps because [Vanderbilt] is skillful at conveying his own sense of engagement to the reader.”—Los Angeles Times
“A retracing of Dr. Strangelove as ordinary life.”—Greil Marcus, Bookforum
Americans’ cultural love affair with their country’s landscape started in the nineteenth century, when expansionism was often promoted as divine mission, the West was still the frontier, and scenery became the backdrop of nationalist mythology. With a promise of resources ripe for development, Manifest Destiny–era aesthetics often reinforced a system of environmental degradation while preserving the wide and wild view. Although the aesthetics have evolved, contemporary media are filled with American landscape images inspired by the nineteenth century. Terre Ryan examines this phenomenon by exploring the overlapping trails of national mythology, landscape aesthetics, patriotic discourse, and public policy. Tracing her journeys around bombing grounds in Nevada, logging sites in Oregon, and energy fields in Wyoming, she argues that business and government agencies often frame commercial projects and national myths according to nineteenth-century beliefs about landscape and bounty. Advertisements and political promotional materials following this aesthetic framework perpetuate frontier-era ideas about the environment as commodity, scenery, and cultural trashlands. Transmitted through all types of media, nineteenth-century perspectives on landscape continue to inform mainstream perceptions of the environment, environmental policies, and representations of American patriotism. Combining personal narrative with factual reportage, political and cultural critique, and historical analysis, Ryan reframes the images we see every day and places them into a larger national narrative.