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

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

ISBN13: 9781596913783
ISBN10: 1596913789
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"In their new book, A Nuclear Family Vacation, Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger quote Tom Vanderbilt's aphorism that 'all wars end in tourism.' Because World War III may leave no tourists behind, Hodge and Weinberger, a husband-and-wife journalistic team, wisely decide to get their nuclear tourism in beforehand by visiting nuclear sites in 10 U.S. states and 5 countries. The idea that they are tourists is something of a conceit, though: They visit many sites that would be closed to the rest of us, prepare for road trips by reading government reports rather than Fodor's travel guides, and score interviews with senior officials everywhere they go." Hugh Gusterson, American Scientist (read the entire American Scientist review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Two Washington, D.C., defense reporters do for nukes what Sarah Vowell did for presidential assassinations in this fascinating, kaleidoscopic portrait of nuclear weaponry.

In A Nuclear Family Vacation, husband-and-wife journalists Sharon Weinberger and Nathan Hodge hit the open road to explore the secretive world of nuclear weaponry. Along the way, they answer the questions most nuclear tourists dont get to ask: Are nuclear weapons still on hair-trigger alert? Is there such a thing as a suitcase nuke? Is Iran really building the bomb? Together, Weinberger and Hodge visit top-secret locations like the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility in Iran, the United States Kwajalein military outpost in the Marshall Islands, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, and “Site R,” a bunker known as the “Underground Pentagon,” rumored to be Vice President Cheneys personal “undisclosed location” of choice. Their atomic road trip reveals plans to revitalize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, even as the United States pushes other countries to disarm. Weaving together travel writing with world-changing events, A Nuclear Family Vacation unearths unknown—and often quite entertaining—stories about the nuclear world.

Sharon Weinberger is a contributing writer for Wireds national security blog, Danger Room. She was previously editor in chief of McGraw-Hills Defense Technology International and a writer for Aviation Week & Space Technology, a leading aerospace and defense magazine. She is the author of the recently  published Imaginary Weapons: A Journey Through the Pentagons Scientific Underworld, and writes frequently on national security and science for the Washington Post Magazine, Slate, and Discover.

Nathan Hodge is a Washington, D.C.-based writer for Janes Defence Weekly. A frequent contributor to Slate, he has reported extensively from Afghanistan, Iraq, and the former Soviet Union. His work has appeared in the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and Details, among many other newspapers and magazines.

In A Nuclear Family Vacation, husband-and-wife journalists Sharon Weinberger and Nathan Hodge hit the open road to explore the secretive world of nuclear weaponry. Along the way, they answer the questions most nuclear tourists dont get to ask: Are nuclear weapons still on hair-trigger alert? Is there such a thing as a suitcase nuke? Is Iran really building the bomb?

Together, Weinberger and Hodge visit top-secret locations like the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility in Iran, the United States Kwajalein military outpost in the Marshall Islands, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, and “Site R,” a bunker known as the “Underground Pentagon,” rumored to be Vice President Cheneys personal “undisclosed location” of choice. Their atomic road trip reveals plans to revitalize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, even as the United States pushes other countries to disarm. Weaving together travel writing with world-changing events, A Nuclear Family Vacation unearths unknown—and often quite entertaining—stories about the nuclear world.

“[Hodge and Weinberger] succeed admirably in reminding us that nuclear weapons have ‘never really gone away and in calling attention to the crucial public debates that are not taking place. The questions they pose are significant and overdue; the answers they receive unsettling . . . They remind us that the purpose and future of our nuclear arsenal are too important to be left to those whose jobs remain dependent upon its perpetuation.”—Chicago Tribune

A Nuclear Family Vacation is an eye-opening read for anyone who thinks that nuclear weapons are a thing of the past.”—Nerve

“How are you spending your next holiday? Tired of the same old thing? You might want to pick a different destination from A Nuclear Family Vacation, a new book and travel guide by veteran defense reporters Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger. This husband-and-wife team take the reader on a rapid, darkly comic tour of nuclear weapons sites across the world. A rare achievement in a nuclear policy book, their narrative demystifies an intimidating topic for a broad audience without sacrificing substance. Instead of pontificating on thermonuclear war, Hodge and Weinberger give us an eye-level view, often through their car window . . . the book sparkles with anecdotes and insights. It is well worth the trip.”—Nature

“In this off-the-uncontaminated-path adventure, Sharon Weinberger and Nathan Hodge make nuclear vacationing seem fun, in a weirdly exhilarating way. They are the slightly obsessed tour guides holding the microphones at the front of the security-cleared bus. Together, the experts lead us across a neglected, mismanaged, and forgotten past, pointing out the history of doomsday weaponry along the way. A Nuclear Family Vacation is a shocking reminder that the Cold War isnt over; its just transformed into something else that we dont have a name for yet.”—Robert Sullivan, author of Cross Country and Rats

“Nuclear tourism is an effective and interesting way of canvassing issues we face today. Reading A Nuclear Family Vacation is a good way to learn more about the history of nuclear weapons and become conversant with our current situation. Hodge and Weinberger have done the legwork to back up their common-sense conclusions.”—Defense Technology International

“Under­lying their journey into our nuclear past is an earnest and thoughtful discussion of our nuclear present—and future . . . They identify a troubling lack of a cohesive national nuclear policy and remark that ‘much of the infrastructure supporting nuclear weapons continues to exist merely because no one has come up with a compelling reason to shut it down. One can imagine an updated version of A Nuclear Family Vacation in which the two visit sites in Pakistan, India, China, North Korea, Israel, Russia, France, Great Britain, and heaven knows where else. The itinerary is not as finite as one would like; in fact, it seems to be growing. But there would be some comfort in having these sober and subtle observers as our guides.”—Bookforum

“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 . . . Convey[s] an acute sense of the incoherence of latter-day nuclear strategizing.”—Publishers Weekly

“Exhibiting dark humor, defense journalists Hodge and Weinberger take a tour of Americas nuclear-weapons infrastructure, visiting labs, plants, bunkers, missile silos, and ground zeros of nuclear explosions.”—Booklist

Wired contributor Weinberger and Jane's Defense Weekly contributor Hodge haven't exactly hit on a new idea with this tour of nuclear facilities of the Cold War and the present; fellow journalists Tad Bartimus and Scott McCartney scooped them in 1991 with Trinity's Children: Living Along America's Nuclear Highway. The older book remains readable and oddly entertaining, as is the newcomer, which has many virtues of its own. Not least, and perhaps most newsworthy, is the authors' ‘nuclear junketeering trip to Iran, a nation whose nuclear history, they smartly observe, ‘was not always that of a pariah state. Indeed, back when the shah was in power—all the way back to Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace initiative—America was glad to see Iran develop nuclear facilities, even supplying a research reactor that went online in 1967. By 1976, the authors add, Iran was projected to have 20 nuclear plants, a development stymied by unrest and revolution that, perhaps ironically, delayed the country's nuclear growth for decades. That was then; now Condoleezza Rice huffs that ‘Iran needs no civil nuclear power. These are weird times indeed, and this travelogue takes readers into some of the weirder corners, including Wyoming missile silos and the nation's premier nuclear museum, in which one exhibit boasts two seemingly contradictory messages: one that nukes aren't scary, ‘while also demonstrating that nuclear weapons weren't terrifying enough to make anyone think twice about using them. Weirdest, perhaps, is the authors' venture to Siberia, where plenty of old-school hard-liners are still eager to lob a few ICBMs our way. The authors write with intelligence and good humor, though they end on a disquieting note: The last president to spend much time thinking about nuclear weapons was Reagan. Meanwhile, we're sitting atop ‘a nuclear arsenal that serves many purposes, but no particular end. A vacation for some, a nightmare for others. Either way, well worth reading.”—Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"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)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Journalists Hodge and Weinberger hit the open road to explore the secretive world of nuclear weaponry. Weaving together travel writing with world-changing events, "A Nuclear Family Vacation" unearths unknown--and often quite entertaining--stories about the nuclear world.

Synopsis:

Two Washington, D.C., defense reporters do for nukes what Sarah Vowell did for presidential assassinations in this fascinating, kaleidoscopic portrait of nuclear weaponry.

In A Nuclear Family Vacation, husband-and-wife journalists Sharon Weinberger and Nathan Hodge hit the open road to explore the secretive world of nuclear weaponry. Along the way, they answer the questions most nuclear tourists dont get to ask: Are nuclear weapons still on hair-trigger alert? Is there such a thing as a suitcase nuke? Is Iran really building the bomb? Together, Weinberger and Hodge visit top-secret locations like the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility in Iran, the United States Kwajalein military outpost in the Marshall Islands, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, and “Site R,” a bunker known as the “Underground Pentagon,” rumored to be Vice President Cheneys personal “undisclosed location” of choice. Their atomic road trip reveals plans to revitalize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, even as the United States pushes other countries to disarm. Weaving together travel writing with world-changing events, A Nuclear Family Vacation unearths unknown—and often quite entertaining—stories about the nuclear world.

About the Author

Sharon Weinberger is a contributing writer for Wireds national security blog, Danger Room. She was previously editor in chief of McGraw-Hills Defense Technology International and a writer for Aviation Week & Space Technology, a leading aerospace and defense magazine. She is the author of the recently  published Imaginary Weapons: A Journey Through the Pentagons Scientific Underworld, and writes frequently on national security and science for the Washington Post Magazine, Slate, and Discover.

Nathan Hodge is a Washington, D.C.-based writer for Janes Defence Weekly. A frequent contributor to Slate, he has reported extensively from Afghanistan, Iraq, and the former Soviet Union. His work has appeared in the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and Details, among many other newspapers and magazines.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Glenda, February 25, 2009 (view all comments by Glenda)
Bored of the beach vacation, the trip to Europe, the Mediterranean cruise? Why not try touring defunct, decommissioned, and still-active nuclear facilities this year?

That is the question asked, and answered, by writers (and spouses) Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger. They chose to cross the globe, visiting Kazakhstan, Iran, the Marshall Islands and Wyoming in their search for the nuclear-tipped remnants of the Cold War, and the escalating nuclear programs of today.

Hodge and Weinberger are even-handed in their treatment of nuclear scientists trying to keep cash-strapped facilities alive, those in the military managing their deadly arsenals, and skeptics and citizens questioning the cost and purpose of such poisonous weaponry.

Why not try a vacation in West Virginia this year - at the hotel with a bomb shelter intended to save the entire U.S. Congress? Hodge and Weinberger will tell you how to get there.
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(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9781596913783
Author:
Hodge, Nathan
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Author:
Weinberger, Sharon
Subject:
General Social Science
Subject:
General
Subject:
Nuclear weapons
Subject:
Nuclear nonproliferation
Subject:
Military Science
Subject:
Essays & Travelogues
Subject:
Special Interest - General
Subject:
Military - Nuclear Warfare
Subject:
Nuclear engineering
Subject:
Travel Writing-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20080631
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » Covert Government and Conspiracy Theory

A Nuclear Family Vacation: Travels in the World of Atomic Weaponry Used Hardcover
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Product details 336 pages Bloomsbury Press - English 9781596913783 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "In their new book, A Nuclear Family Vacation, Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger quote Tom Vanderbilt's aphorism that 'all wars end in tourism.' Because World War III may leave no tourists behind, Hodge and Weinberger, a husband-and-wife journalistic team, wisely decide to get their nuclear tourism in beforehand by visiting nuclear sites in 10 U.S. states and 5 countries. The idea that they are tourists is something of a conceit, though: They visit many sites that would be closed to the rest of us, prepare for road trips by reading government reports rather than Fodor's travel guides, and score interviews with senior officials everywhere they go." (read the entire American Scientist review)
"Synopsis" by , Journalists Hodge and Weinberger hit the open road to explore the secretive world of nuclear weaponry. Weaving together travel writing with world-changing events, "A Nuclear Family Vacation" unearths unknown--and often quite entertaining--stories about the nuclear world.
"Synopsis" by ,
Two Washington, D.C., defense reporters do for nukes what Sarah Vowell did for presidential assassinations in this fascinating, kaleidoscopic portrait of nuclear weaponry.

In A Nuclear Family Vacation, husband-and-wife journalists Sharon Weinberger and Nathan Hodge hit the open road to explore the secretive world of nuclear weaponry. Along the way, they answer the questions most nuclear tourists dont get to ask: Are nuclear weapons still on hair-trigger alert? Is there such a thing as a suitcase nuke? Is Iran really building the bomb? Together, Weinberger and Hodge visit top-secret locations like the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility in Iran, the United States Kwajalein military outpost in the Marshall Islands, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, and “Site R,” a bunker known as the “Underground Pentagon,” rumored to be Vice President Cheneys personal “undisclosed location” of choice. Their atomic road trip reveals plans to revitalize the U.S. nuclear arsenal, even as the United States pushes other countries to disarm. Weaving together travel writing with world-changing events, A Nuclear Family Vacation unearths unknown—and often quite entertaining—stories about the nuclear world.

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