среда, 3 июля 2013 г.

New book: Kate Brown, PLUTOPIA: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford UP, 2013)

PLUTOPIA: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters. Oxford University Press, 2013.
ISBN13: 9780199855766 | cloth | 416 pgs | $27.95


While many transnational histories of the nuclear arms race have been written, Kate Brown provides the first definitive account of the great plutonium disasters of the United States and the Soviet Union.

In Plutopia, Brown draws on official records and dozens of interviews to tell the extraordinary stories of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia-the first two cities in the world to produce plutonium. To contain secrets, American and Soviet leaders created plutopias--communities of nuclear families living in highly-subsidized, limited-access atomic cities. Fully employed and medically monitored, the residents of Richland and Ozersk enjoyed all the pleasures of consumer society, while nearby, migrants, prisoners, and soldiers were banned from plutopia--they lived in temporary "staging grounds" and often performed the most dangerous work at the plant. Brown shows that the plants' segregation of permanent and temporary workers and of nuclear and non-nuclear zones created a bubble of immunity, where dumps and accidents were glossed over and plant managers freely embezzled and polluted. In four decades, the Hanford plant near Richland and the Maiak plant near Ozersk each issued at least 200 million curies of radioactive isotopes into the surrounding environment--equaling four Chernobyls--laying waste to hundreds of square miles and contaminating rivers, fields, forests, and food supplies. Because of the decades of secrecy, downwind and downriver neighbors of the plutonium plants had difficulty proving what they suspected, that the rash of illnesses, cancers, and birth defects in their communities were caused by the plants' radioactive emissions. Plutopia was successful because in its zoned-off isolation it appeared to deliver the promises of the American dream and Soviet communism; in reality, it concealed disasters that remain highly unstable and threatening today.

An untold and profoundly important piece of Cold War history, Plutopia invites readers to consider the nuclear footprint left by the arms race and the enormous price of paying for it.

Table of Contents


Part I: Incarcerated Space and Western Nuclear Frontiers

1. Mr. Matthias Goes to Washington
2. Labor on the Lam
3. Labor Shortage
4. Defending the Nation
5. The City Plutonium Built
6. Work and the Women Left Holding Plutonium
7. Hazards
8. The Food Chain
9. Of Flies, Mice and Men

Part II: The Soviet Working Class Atom and the American Response

10. The Arrest of a Journal
11. The Gulag and the Bomb
12. The Bronze Age Atom
13. Keeping Secrets
14. Beria's Visit
15. Reporting for Duty
16. Empire of Calamity
17. "A Few Good Men" in Pursuit of America's Permanent War Economy
18. Stalin's Rocket Engine: Rewarding the Plutonium People
19. Big Brother in the American Heartland
20. Neighbors
21. The Vodka Society

Part III: The Plutonium Disasters

22. Managing a Risk Society
23. The Walking Wounded
24. Two Autopsies
25. Wahluke Slope: Into Harm's Way
26. Quiet Flows the Techa
27. Resettlement
28. The Zone of Immunity
29. The Socialist Consumers' Republic
30. The Uses of an Open Society
31. The Kyshtym Belch, 1957
32. Karabolka, Beyond the Zone
33. Private Parts
34. "From Crabs to Caviar, We Had Everything"

Part IV: Dismantling the Plutonium Curtain

35. Plutonium into Portfolio Shares
36. Chernobyl Redux
37. 1984
38. The Forsaken
39. Sick People
40. Cassandra in Coveralls
41. Nuclear Glasnost
42. All the Kings' Men
43. Futures


"Turning up a surprising amount of hitherto hidden material and talkative survivors, Brown writes a vivid, often hair-raising history of the great plutonium factories and the privileged cities built around them... Readers will squirm to learn of the high radiation levels workers routinely experienced and the casualness with which wastes poured into the local air, land and rivers... An angry but fascinating account of negligence, incompetence and injustice justified (as it still is) in the name of national security." –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An unflinching and chilling account." –Seattle Times
"Harrowing... Meticulously researched... Plutopia has important messages for those managing today's nuclear facilities, arguing for caution and transparency." —Nature

"One of the Cold War's more striking perversities never made it to public view. ... Brown is a good writer, and she describes with precision the construction of the two sites (a difficult process in the U.S. case, an unbelievably horrid one in the Russian case), the hazardous occupations undertaken by their inhabitants, and the consciously contrived bubbles of socioeconomic inequality both places became." —Foreign Affairs
"Brown's account is unique, partisan and occasionally personal in that she includes some of her thoughts about interviews she conducted... But because she is open and thorough about her sources, those are strengths to be celebrated, not weaknesses to be deplored. It also means her book is engaging, honest and, in the end, entirely credible."
—New Scientist Read full review

"Kate Brown has written a provocative and original study of two cities— one American, one Soviet—at the center of their countries' nuclear weapons complexes. The striking parallels she finds between them help us —impel us—to see the Cold War in a new light. Plutopia will be much discussed. It is a fascinating and important book."
—David Holloway, author of Stalin and the Bomb

"Kate Brown has produced a novel and arresting account of the consequences of Cold War Nuclear policies on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Interweaving documentary research in government archives, reviews and revisions of the public record, and a host of personal interviews with the citizens—perpetrators, victims, and witnesses—Brown's Plutopia makes a lasting contribution to the continuing chronicle of the human and environmental disasters of the atomic age."
—Peter Bacon Hales, author of Atomic Spaces: Living on the Manhattan Project

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