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On the Home Front: The Cold War Legacy of the Hanford Nuclear Siteby Michele Stenehjem Gerber
Synopses & Reviews
Established in south-central New Mexico at the end of World War II, White Sands Missile Range is the largest overland military reserve in the western hemisphere. It was the site of the first nuclear explosion, the birthplace of the American space program, and the primary site for testing U.S. missile capabilities.
In this environmental history of White Sands Missile Range, Ryan H. Edgington traces the uneasy relationships between the military, the federal government, local ranchers, environmentalists, state game and fish personnel, biologists and ecologists, state and federal political figures, hunters, and tourists after World War IIand#8212;as they all struggled to define and productively use the militarized western landscape. Environmentalists, ranchers, tourists, and other groups joined together to transform the meaning and uses of this region, challenging the authority of the national security state to dictate the environmental and cultural value of a rural American landscape. As a result, White Sands became a locus of competing geographies informed not only by the far-reaching intellectual, economic, and environmental changes wrought by the cold war but also by regional history, culture, and traditions.
The Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state was built by the Army Corps of Engineers and the DuPont Corporation during World War II to produce plutonium for America's first atomic weapons. The gigantic facility was immediately successful, producing and delivering in less than two years the plutonium for the world's initial atomic explosion and for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki that effectively ended World War II. This first complete history of Hanford was made possible by the recent declassification of tens of thousands of formerly secret government documents relating to the construction, operation, and maintenance of the site. It describes the releases (planned and accidental) of radioactive and chemical contaminants; their pathways through the environment; attempts to correct problems under conditions of rapid, nearly chaotic change; and the secrecy of government operations that made scientific review of Hanford processes virtually impossible.
On the Home Front is the only comprehensive history of the Hanford Nuclear Site, Americaand#8217;s most productive and wasteful plutonium manufacturing facility. Located in southeastern Washington State, the Hanford Site produced the plutonium used in the atomic bombs that ended World War II. This book was made possible by the declassification in the 1980s of tens of thousands of government documents relating to the construction, operation, and maintenance of the site. The third edition contains a new introduction by John M. Findlay and a new epilogue by the author.
About the Author
Michele Stenehjem Gerber works in the Public Information Office of Fluor Hanford, Inc. She has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Declassification and has served on the Hanford Reach National Monument Federal Advisory Committee and consulted for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
John M. Findlay is a professor of history at the University of Washington and the coeditor of Parallel Destinies: Canadians, Americans and the Western Border and The Atomic West.
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History and Social Science » Americana » General