A Nuclear Family Vacation: Travels in the World of Atomic Weaponry

Nathan Hodge, Author, Sharon Weinberger, Author . Bloomsbury $24.99 (324p) ISBN 978-1-59691-378-3

With the end of the Cold War, a drastically downsized nuclear weapons establishment has suffered an antiapocalypse—missile silos abandoned and crumbling, shell-shocked industry survivors bereft of a reason to go on. In this adventure in “nuclear tourism,” the husband-and-wife authors, both defense journalists, poke through the rubble for signs of life. Their itinerary includes deserted test sites in Nevada and Kazakhstan; a West Virginia hotel whose basement conceals a blast-proof bunker once intended to house Congress; an Iranian uranium-processing facility; and an active missile-launch site in Wyoming. They interview weapon scientists and generals to understand why aging nuclear arsenals are retained and revamped without a rival superpower, and uncover a gamut of rationales: national paranoia in Russia, at the Pentagon mystifying world-is-flat globalization theory. Framing this inquiry as a travelogue is a bit gimmicky: nuclear installations are functional, drab and unevocative, so for color the authors often fall back on Borat-esque culture-clash comedy or the absurdist security rigmaroles they endure. But they do convey an acute sense of the incoherence of latter-day nuclear strategizing. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/28/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-60819-669-2
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-0-7475-9757-5
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-1-59691-631-9
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