BOMBS OVER BIKINI by Connie Goldsmith


The World's First Nuclear Disaster
Age Range: 12 - 16
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A brief chronicle of the nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands from 1946 until 1958, in which the U.S. military detonated 67 atom and hydrogen bombs over the region’s Bikini and Enewetak atolls.

The story begins with Operation Crossroads, two tests conducted at Bikini Atoll in mid-1946 to investigate the effect of nuclear weapons on warships. Bikini’s native residents agreed to evacuate the island. More tests followed. The detonation of Bravo in 1954, the 12th device and first hydrogen bomb, is identified as the world’s first nuclear disaster. With an explosive yield 1,000 times more powerful than the weapon used on Hiroshima, the fallout from Bravo contaminated the entire atoll and spread downwind to the east, where more atolls were contaminated. More than 200 Marshallese were subjected to high levels of radiation, as were 28 Americans and 23 Japanese fishermen in the vicinity. The long-term suffering of the Marshallese and American military personnel from radiation poisoning due largely to the ignorance and reckless disregard of the U.S. military is tragic, but readers familiar with World War II history may wonder why this is called “the world’s first nuclear disaster” instead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Goldsmith does not explain her rationale. A less notable shortcoming is a factual error identifying the world’s first atomic bomb as Trinity. The test in which the device was detonated was code-named “Trinity,” but the device was nicknamed “the Gadget.”

A critically flawed chronicle of a significant chapter in the Cold War nuclear arms race. (source notes, glossary, further reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4677-1612-3
Page count: 88pp
Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2014


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