AUTHORKaufman, Scott
TITLEProject Plowshare: The Peaceful Use of Nuclear Explosives in Cold War America
PUBLISHERCornell University Press
CITYIthaca, NY

This book provides a detailed history of the United States’ program to use nuclear explosives for nonmilitary purposes, called the Plowshare Project. It considers also the domestic and foreign policy implications of that program, which was advertised by its proponents as new, innovative, and beneficial to the U.S. Between 1961 and 1973, the United States conducted 27 Plowshare "tests" in the Western U.S., the majority of which took place at the Nevada test site. In total, there were 35 detonations, since two tests used multiple devices. Proposed uses for the explosions included excavation projects such as the widening of the Panama Canal, building a harbor in Alaska, and blasting underground caverns for storage of water, petroleum, and natural gas. The author recounts how politics, science, economics, and the Cold War shaped the vision of the Project’s advocates. He describes the unintended negative social, environmental, and political consequences of the project and how public opposition finally terminated it.

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