An angry but fascinating account of negligence, incompetence and injustice justified (as it still is) in the name of...

PLUTOPIA

NUCLEAR FAMILIES, ATOMIC CITIES, AND THE GREAT SOVIET AND AMERICAN PLUTONIUM DISASTERS

Turning up a surprising amount of hitherto hidden material and talkative survivors, Brown (History/Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County; A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland, 2005) writes a vivid, often hair-raising history of the great plutonium factories and the privileged cities built around them.

During the Manhattan Project, the United States commandeered land in eastern Washington, around Hanford, in 1943 to build immense facilities and an isolated, government-run bedroom community for employees. Although a crash program with unlimited finances, technical problems and labor shortages delayed the opening. Once operation began, already rudimentary safety precautions were relaxed to speed up plutonium production. Readers will squirm to learn of the high radiation levels workers routinely experienced and the casualness with which wastes poured into the local air, land and rivers. Hanford remains by far the most contaminated nuclear site in the U.S., but Ozarks, in Russia, was worse. Convinced of an imminent American attack, the Soviet Union launched its own crash program in 1945. Despite working from stolen American plans, sloppy construction by slave laborers and Soviet technical backwardness produced a leaky, perpetually malfunctioning facility. Workers sickened and died of acute radiation poisoning; far more lived shorter, diseased lives. Over a huge area, waste in the air and local rivers killed farm animals, contaminated crops and poisoned civilians. The Soviet government responded by providing workers with increased consumer goods and housing; by the 1960s, Ozarks was an island of prosperity in an impoverished nation.

An angry but fascinating account of negligence, incompetence and injustice justified (as it still is) in the name of national security.

Pub Date: April 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0199855766

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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