Critical mass

  • Book cover of Learning to Glow: A Nuclear Reader

 


Radiation workers in Ottawa, Ill., "downwinders" in Utah, unsuspecting veterans of the Gulf War - these are among the populations profiled in Learning to Glow: A Nuclear Reader. In the words of editor John Bradley, the anthology offers a glimpse into stories that "have been largely ignored, dismissed or suppressed."


Certain sections will be familiar to readers who have followed nuclear history over the years: an excerpt from Paradise of Bombs by Scott Russell Sanders that offers a chilling account of growing up in the shadow of the Ohio Arsenal; "The Clan of the One-Breasted Women" in which Terry Tempest Williams remembers watching, in that hour before dawn, a golden-stemmed cloud vibrating in the sky. The ash rained down on her family's car. And later, her mother - one of Utah's "downwinders" - died, causing Williams to question the Mormon faith in which she'd been raised. "Blind obedience in the name of patriotism or religion ultimately takes our lives," she writes.


Blind obedience is also at the heart of Mary Laufer's essay, an account of what it's like to be married to a man who worked on a Navy submarine that had first-strike capability. "I told myself that he didn't work directly with the weapons, so if they were launched in a war, he was blameless," Laufer writes. But that logic didn't hold indefinitely, and Laufer began to become troubled by her secondhand immersion in a nuclear lifestyle. "What bothered me most," she writes with candor of her husband, "was that it didn't seem to bother him."


Taken together, these stories bring to horrific light this nation's invisible nuclear history * a history that is, sadly, all over the map.


Learning to Glow: A Nuclear Reader, edited by John Bradley, University of Arizona Press, 2000. Paperback: $22.95. 330 pages.

Copyright © 2001 HCN and Marilyn Abildskov

High Country News Classifieds
  • GENERAL MANAGER
    The Board of UYWCD seeks a new GM to manage operations & to implement our robust strategic plan. Details at www.upperyampawater.com. EOE
  • IN TUCSON, FOR SALE: A BEAUTIFUL, CLASSIC MID-CENTURY MODERN HOME
    designed by architect David Swanson in 1966. Located a block from Saguaro National Forest, yet minutes to Downtown and the UofA campus, 3706 sqft, 6...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Friends of the San Juans is seeking a new leader guide our efforts to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish...
  • 80 ACRES
    straddles North Platte Fishery, Wyoming. Legal access 2 miles off 1-80. Call 720-440-7633.
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • OWN A THRIVING MOUNTAIN GUIDE SERVICE.
    Eastern Sierra guide service for sale to person with vision & expertise to take it onwards. Since 1995 with USFS & NPS permits. Ideal for...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...