AUTHORTucker, Todd
TITLEAtomic America: How a Deadly Explosion and a Feared Admiral Changed the Course of Nuclear History
PUBLISHERFree Press
CITYNew York, NY
DATE PUBLISHED2009
ISBN978-1-4165-4433-3


Written by a naval nuclear engineer, this book investigates the explosion of the military reactor SL-1 in January of 1961, the United States' only fatal reactor incident. The author claims that the complete story emphasizes the conflicts that occurred between the branches of the U.S. military at the height of the Cold War. The author alternates between the personal histories of the workers involved in the accident and narratives from people in the three branches of the military – the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy – that desired nuclear technology. At the time of the incident, the line between nuclear power and nuclear weaponry was blurry, which made the Army reluctant to relinquish its hold on the nation’s nuclear reactors. As the author presents it, the fatal explosion at SL-1 resulted in the end of the Army program and opened the door for what became the Navy’s long-standing monopoly on military nuclear power. The book contains several photographs and diagrams.


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