AUTHORRashke, Richard
TITLEThe Killing of Karen Silkwood: The Story Behind the Kerr-McGee Plutonium Case
PUBLISHERCornell University Press
CITYIthaca, NY

This book is an account of the death of Karen Silkwood, a laboratory analyst and union leader at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant in Crescent, Oklahoma, and the ensuing investigation and trial. The author, Richard Rashke, discusses in great (and often personal) detail the events leading up to Silkwood’s death in an automobile accident, including heavy and inexplicable radioactive contamination on her body and in her apartment. He presents Silkwood as both resilient and frightened in her struggle against what she saw to be a corporate cover-up of negligent industry practices and disregard of health regulations. Raschke explores a multitude of theories, from government conspiracy to industry carelessness, and describes the major players in Silkwood’s life and death: her friends, coworkers, family, union contacts, and the lawyers and investigators who pursued answers and justice as long as a decade after her death. In particular, the author includes a very detailed account of the legal proceedings, from initial research and depositions to transcripts and analyses of courtroom testimonies. The second edition of the work, republished twenty-six years after Silkwood’s death, includes three additional chapters on the legacy of Silkwood’s actions.

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