Living Along America's Nuclear Highway
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 Eye-opening and evenhanded report by two AP journalists on the history of the nuclear-weapons industry in the Southwest and its effects on its employees and neighbors. The beauty of the high desert and mountains on either side of Interstate 25 as it winds north from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Buffalo, Wyoming, has always served a major function in luring nuclear physicists, supercomputer designers, and aeronautics executives to its thousand-mile stretch. Isolation has, of course, been another great advantage, as laser beams, Stealth Fighters, and hardened tanks play out war games, and as malfunctioning missiles prepare to detonate with only a few ranchers around to complain. Veering away from the moral issues presented by nuclear weapons work itself, Bartimus and McCartney prefer to concentrate on the industry's effects on the environment and the neighbors who share air, land, and water with the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, the nuclear weapons storage facility at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, Los Alamos National Laboratory, MX missile silos, and other facilities. Ordering their survey geographically from Trinity Site to the missile silos of Wyoming, the authors offer tales of lost ranch land, displaced citizens, poisoned employees, and terrified mothers, but are careful to include thought-provoking responses from within the nuclear industry (scientists, engineers, and commanding officers) as well. Brief descriptions of the latest breakthroughs in SDI research and development astound, but Bartimus and McCartney point out that the villain in this story is, and always has been, secrecy. Brisk, responsible, and wide-ranging work that goes at least part of the way in laying some nuclear secrets bare.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-15-167719-0
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1991


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