Despite what he calls ""extensive interviews"" and access to ""heretofore secret Pentagon reports,"" investigative reporter...

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ATOMIC SOLDIERS: American Victims of Nuclear Experiments

Despite what he calls ""extensive interviews"" and access to ""heretofore secret Pentagon reports,"" investigative reporter Howard Rosenberg offers no new insights into this heavily covered subject. He traces the development of atomic weapons, starting with the Manhattan Project, and describes the postwar debate over whether or not to launch a nuclear build-up (David Lilienthal against, Rear Admiral Lewis Strauss in favor), but all this is reminiscent of Sidney Lens' The Day Before Doomsday. Similarly, Rosenberg's coverage of the Nevada nuclear tests--the AEC abdicating safety responsibility to the Pentagon; soldiers and civilians in and around the test zone suffering from radiation sickness--is less clearly drawn than in Uhl and Ensign's recent GI Guinea Pigs. Rosenberg's most interesting contribution is a discussion of the scientific controversy. We see, among others, Dr. Edward Teller leading the atomic weapons proponents; Dr. Linus Pauling heading the opposition; and Dr. John Gofman reversing himself to become a leading opponent--and then being forced to resign from Berkeley's Livermore Laboratory after an AEC threat to cut Livermore's funding if Gofman's (chromosome) research grant is not revoked. Rosenberg says that, to be fair, he will not be judgmental about political decisions made so long ago, but he warns us at the outset that ""we are all 'atomic soldiers,' destined to be the guinea pigs for an ongoing scientific experiment,"" and his anti-nuclear position is clear throughout. Overall, a reasonable, if not original, account.

Pub Date: July 30, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1980