THE PLUTONIUM FILES

AMERICA'S SECRET MEDICAL EXPERIMENTS IN THE COLD WAR

A fierce exposÇ of governmental duplicity and dangerous science. A decade ago Welsome, a reporter for the Albuquerque Tribune, happened upon a reference in an air force report to a nuclear waste pile that contained the carcasses of several animals that had been used in testing the effects of radiation. The report hinted that animals were not the only subjects. Intrigued, Welsome began to sift through a mountain of official documents, discovering that, from 1945 to 1947, 18 unsuspecting civilians——men, women, and even children scattered in quiet hospital wards across the country——had been injected with plutonium to test the effects of radioactive materials on the human body. Such testing formed part of a federal program that employed, in the words of a government film narrator, “every angle and every gadget we can to find out what really happens when an atomic bomb kicks out fiercely at the world around it.” In a tour de force of investigative reporting, Welsome tracked down some of these subjects; and she weaves their stories into a larger narrative, one that tells the story of US government Cold War medical experimentation as a whole. Much of this testing, it appears, was unnecessary—after all, the government had thousands of preexisting subjects, the Japanese victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some of it, Welsome suggests, was done at the behest of US atomic scientists at Los Alamos, N.M., who were worried about their own health. Those physicists, as scientist Arthur Compton wrote, “knew what had happened to the early experimenters with radioactive materials. Not many of them had lived very long.” Neither did many of those 18 victims, and neither did thousands of soldiers and civilians exposed to atomic-bomb blasts in the deserts of the Southwest, all in the name of delivering the world from Communism. The literature on the official crimes of the Cold War era is large and growing. Welsome’s stunning book adds much to that literature, and it makes for sobering reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-31402-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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