MELTDOWN: The Race Against Nuclear Disaster at Three Mile Island: A Reporter's Story

Wilborn Hampton, Author . Candlewick $19.99 (112p) ISBN 978-0-7636-0715-9

Hampton's (Kennedy Assassinated! The World Mourns: A Reporter's Story) compelling account of the March 28, 1979, Three Mile Island crisis both objectively portrays the history of nuclear energy leading up to that day and offers an engaging, personal, behind-the-scenes viewpoint. The first chapter presents a chilling description of the atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima, dotted with riveting contemporary reactions from scientists and writers. Hampton effectively makes the transition from the horrors of the bomb to the public's gradual warming up to the idea of atomic energy—which later soured in 1979 when the Three Mile Island plant threatened meltdown. He provides insight into the task of a reporter and the camaraderie of the press corps, and delivers the headlines of the time and the emotions of the terrified inhabitants closest to the plant near Harrisburg, Pa., while also giving 20/20 hindsight into the misinformation supplied by the power company and the internal disagreements among government and local scientists. Throughout, powerful black-and-white photographs intensify the drama, though at times the institutional design detracts from the accessibility of the text. While Three Mile Island ultimately averted tragedy, Hampton juxtaposes this with the long-range effects of Chernobyl (just seven years later) and will leave readers pondering weighty ethical questions about the future of atomic power. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)

FYI:A reader's guide is available atwww.

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
Genre: Children's
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