Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats

Kristen Iversen, Author
Kristen Iversen. Crown, $25 (432p) ISBN 978-0-307-95563-0
Compact Disc - 11 pages - 978-0-449-00966-6
Compact Disc - 978-0-449-00968-0
Hardcover - 400 pages - 978-0-09-957185-8
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4481-0467-3
Open Ebook - 299 pages - 978-0-307-95564-7
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-1-84655-614-2
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-307-95565-4
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In this powerful work of research and personal testimony, Iversen (Molly Brown), director of the M.F.A. creative writing program at the University of Memphis. chronicles the story of America’s willfully blinkered relationship to the nuclear weapons industry through the haunting experience of her own family in Colorado. Moving to the spanking new subdivision of Denver called Bridledale in 1969, an area hugely expanding due to the growing industries nearby, Iversen’s middle-class family of four children, lawyer dad, and homemaker mom believed they had secured the American dream, hardly questioning that Dow Chemical was making anything more than scrubbing bubbles in the top-secret Rocky Flats foundry. Built in the early 1950s by the Atomic Energy Commission to smelt the plutonium “triggers” for the nuclear bombs necessary to deter the Soviet Union during the cold war, Rocky Flats had already suffered a major plutonium fire in 1957, the extent of radiation damage swiftly covered up, before a similar fire on Mother’s Day 1969 proved the worst industrial accident in U.S. history, spreading unknown quantities of radiation in the soil and water and costing $70.7 million to clean up—also carefully covered up in the name of national security. Meanwhile, residents began to get sick, especially the children who ran wild over the contaminated land; animals grew sterile; protestors started to arouse concern; and studies were published, culminating in a FBI raid of the facility in 1989. Yet the grief was ongoing, as Iversen renders in her masterly use of the present tense, conveying tremendous suspense and impressive control of her material. Agent: Ellen Levine. (July)
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