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Yellow Dirt: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayedby Judy Pasternak
"Studded with vivid character sketches and evocative descriptions of the American landscape, journalist Judy Pasternak's scarifying account of uranium mining's disastrous consequences often reads like a novel — though you will wish that the bad guys got punished as effectively as they do in commercial fiction. Real life is complicated, and Pasternak, a veteran of 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, does justice to the historical and ethical ambiguities of her tale while crafting a narrative of exemplary clarity." Wendy Smith, Los Angeles Times (Read the entire National Book Critic's Circle review)
Synopses & Reviews
WINNER OF THE J. ANTHONY LUKAS WORK-IN-PROGRESS AWARDandlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andnbsp;andlt;BRandgt;Atop a craggy mesa in the northern reaches of the Navajo reservation lies what was once a world-class uranium mine called Monument No. 2. Discovered in the 1940sand#8212;during the governmentand#8217;s desperate press to build nuclear weaponsand#8212;the mesaand#8217;s tremendous lode would forever change the lives of the hundreds of Native Americans who labored there and of their families, including many who dwelled in the valley below for generations afterward. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Yellow Dirt andlt;/iandgt;offers readers a window into a dark chapter of modern history that still reverberates today. From the 1940s into the early twenty-first century, the United States knowingly used and discarded an entire tribe for the sake of atomic bombs. Secretly, during the days of the Manhattan Project and then in a frenzy during the Cold War, the government bought up all the uranium that could be mined from the hundreds of rich deposits entombed under the sagebrush plains and sandstone cliffs. Despite warnings from physicians and scientists that long-term exposure could be harmful, even fatal, thousands of miners would work there unprotected. A second set of warnings emerged about the environmental impact. Yet even now, long after the uranium boom ended, and long after national security could be cited as a consideration, many residents are still surrounded by contaminated air, water, and soil. The radioactive "yellow dirt" has ended up in their drinking supplies, in their walls and floors, in their playgrounds, in their bread ovens, in their churches, and even in their garbage dumps. And they are still dying. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Transporting readers into a little-known country-within-a-country, award-winning journalist Judy Pasternak gives rare voice to Navajo perceptions of the world, their own complicated involvement with uranium mining, and their political coming-of-age. Along the way, their fates intertwine with decisions made in Washington, D.C., in the Navajo capital of Window Rock, and in the Western border towns where swashbuckling mining men trained their sights on the fortunes they could wrest from tribal land, successfully pressuring the government into letting them do it their way. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;iandgt;Yellow Dirt andlt;/iandgt;powerfully chronicles both a scandal of neglect and the Navajosand#8217; long fight for justice. Few had heard of this shameful legacy until Pasternak revealed it in a prize-winning andlt;iandgt;Los Angeles Times andlt;/iandgt;series that galvanized a powerful congressman and a famous prosecutor to press for redress and repair of the grievous damage. In this expanded account, she provides gripping new details, weaving the personal and the political into a tale of betrayal, of willful negligence, and, ultimately, of reckoning.
"Journalist Pasternak details the history of American uranium mining and its horrific consequences for the Navajo people in this stunning tale of deception, betrayal, and bitter consequences. Situated atop some of the richest uranium deposits in the country, the reservation covers parts of Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona and the area was instrumental in the building of the atomic bomb and, later, the cold war arms race. From 1930 to 1960, Navajo miners worked long days without ventilation or protective gear, while mining companies and government officials withheld from them information about the hazards of radiation. As birth defects and cancers became more prevalent than in the general population (residents of the reservation were 15 — 200 times more likely to contract stomach cancer), government agencies actively prevented the Navajos from connecting their illnesses to the uranium saturating their water, homes, livestock, and topsoil. The author brings half a century of deception to light and details the halting efforts to secure compensation for the victims. With nuclear power once more being discussed as a solution to America's energy problems, Pasternak's portrait of a devastated community and callous governmental indifference is crucial reading. (Sept.) In this smart, pleasingly designed handbook, test-prep expert Royal (Ace the GMAT) explores 20 'immutable principles of writing' and 30 basic rules of grammar and syntax with an eye to helping students craft better essays and business professionals compose more persuasive reports. Beginning with rules of structure (in expository writing, put the thesis first; break the subject down into two to four parts; finish discussing one topic before moving on to another), Royal then moves into stylistic advice--a most welcome section for anyone who's ever slogged through reports full of phrases like 'implementation of optimized functionality.' Why use 'compensate' when 'pay' will do--or 'cognizant' when 'aware' is enough? Royal also counsels readers to vary sentence structure, avoid redundancy and use active phrasing. New advice? Hardly. But it's presented confidently and clearly, and the book's tone feels appropriate for its audience of ambitious students and professionals--those who have plenty of brains, but need a little brush-up with the pen. The grammar workshop at the end is similarly firm and useful. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"This compelling and compassionate book could not be more timely. A gripping story of the betrayal of the Navajos, it comes at a time where once again the human costs of energy production are slighted and both the government and corporations ride roughshod over the least powerful." Richard White, Pulitzer Prize finalist, Recipient of a Macarthur Fellowship, and Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University
Award-winning reporter Pasternak tells the haunting story of uranium mining on the Navajo desert and its terrible, long-ignored legacy.
A gravestone, a mention in local archives, stories still handed down around Oyster Bay: the outline of a woman begins to emerge and with her the world she inhabited, so rich in tradition, so shaken by violent change. Katie Kettle Gale was born into a Salish community in Puget Sound in the 1850s, just as settlers were migrating into what would become Washington State. With her people forced out of their accustomed hunting and fishing grounds into ill-provisioned island camps and reservations, Katie Gale sought her fortune in Oyster Bay. In that early outpost of multiculturalismand#8212;where Native Americans and immigrants from the eastern United States, Europe, and Asia vied for economic, social, political, and legal powerand#8212;a woman like Gale could make her way.
As LLyn De Danaan mines the historical record, we begin to see Gale, a strong-willed Native woman whoand#160;cofounded a successful oyster business, then wrested it away from her Euro-American husband, a man with whom she raised children and who ultimately made her life unbearable. Steeped in sadnessand#8212;with a lost home and a broken marriage, children dying in their teens, and tuberculosis claiming her at forty-threeand#8212;Katie Galeand#8217;s story is also one of remarkable pluck, a tale of hard work and ingenuity, gritty initiative and bad luck that is, ultimately, essentially American.
Award-winning reporter Judy Pasternak tells the haunting story of uranium mining on the Navajo desert and its terrible, long-ignored legacy.
About the Author
Judy Pasternak is a writer who lives near Washington DC. She worked for the andlt;iandgt;Los Angeles Timesandlt;/iandgt; for 24 years, in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, tackling subjects as varied as al Qaeda's private airline, a band of right-wing bank robbers, backstage maneuvering at Dick Cheney's energy task force and the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way. She has won numerous awards for environmental and investigative journalism. Previously, she worked at the andlt;iandgt;Detroit Free Pressandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;iandgt;Baltimore News Americanandlt;/iandgt; and Hollywood andlt;iandgt;(Fla.) Sun-Tattlerandlt;/iandgt;. She is married, with one son.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andnbsp;
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