Synopses & Reviews
On March 11, 2011, an earthquake large enough to knock the earth from its axis sent a massive tsunami speeding toward the Japanese coast and the aging and vulnerable Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power reactors. Over the following weeks, the world watched in horror as a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe: fail-safes failed, cooling systems shut down, nuclear rods melted.
In the first definitive account of the Fukushima disaster, two leading experts from the Union of Concerned Scientists, David Lochbaum and Edwin Lyman, team up with journalist Susan Q. Stranahan, the lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirers Pulitzer Prizewinning coverage of the Three Mile Island accident, to tell this harrowing story. Fukushima combines a fast-paced, riveting account of the tsunami and the nuclear emergency it created with an explanation of the science and technology behind the meltdown as it unfolded in real time. Bolstered by photographs, explanatory diagrams, and a comprehensive glossary, the narrative also extends to other severe nuclear accidents to address both the terrifying question of whether it could happen elsewhere and how such a crisis can be averted in the future.
"Its been over thirty years since a reactor in the United States melted down. Some believe this indicates that all safety problems have been addressed and no challenges remain. Thats not 'mission accomplished,' its just plain luck. The Japanese thought the same thing until their luck ran out."
"No one with an interest in the present and future of nuclear power in the United States should miss it."
—Los Angeles Times
"There are other books on Fukushima, but the only one covering this ground is Fukushima, which takes a more global and policy-related approach. Told with economy, drama, and scientific accuracy, this book is a must for anyone involved in energy assessment or concerned about nuclear energy issues."
Library Journal (starred review)
"The book is a gripping, suspenseful page-turner finely crafted to appeal both to people familiar with the science and those with only the barest inkling of how nuclear power works. Even with the broad outlines of the story in the public record, the authors have uncovered many important details that never came to light during the saturation-level media coverage."
"Their thriller-like, minute-by-minute chronicle covers every harrowing technical breakdown, backed by briskly informative illuminations of the science underlying the boiling-water reactors and the systems designed to prevent their meltdown. They are equally precise in their coverage of the human side of the story, from the grave dangers confronting the plants valiant staff to the scrambling of public officials to the trauma of evacuees as explosions wracked Fukushima and radiation leaks increased. As the crisis at Fukushima continues, this exacting and chilling record of epic failures in risk assessment, regulation, preparedness, and transparency will stand as a cautionary analysis of the perils of nuclear power the world over."
Booklist (starred review)
"Anyone seriously interested in understanding the issues involved in delivering safe nuclear energy will be rewarded by reading this book; anybody involved in delivering nuclear power should be required to read it."
Robert Gallucci, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
"Its hard to imagine a more comprehensive and compelling account of what happened after an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011. There are lessons in this book for all of us. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about nuclear power."
Robert J. Rosenthal, executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting
"A compelling analysis of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima and a pointed challenge to the nuclear industry and its regulators."
Rush Holt, U.S. House of Representatives
"A riveting account of the unfolding of the Fukushima accident that gives the reader a feel for how hard it is to respond to an unprecedented catastrophe in the face of uncertainty."
Victor Gilinsky, former commissioner at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
"Everyone who cares about the Faustian bargain we make for nuclear energy must read this terrifying story."
David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation and host of The Nature of Things
"This amazing book provides both a blow-by-blow account of the Fukushima accident and an exploration of what needs to be done worldwide to improve nuclear safety. Essential reading, whether you agree with all of its conclusions or not."
Matthew Bunn, professor at Harvard Universitys John F. Kennedy School of Government
"Gripping and authoritative, Fukushima opens a new chapter in the debate on the difficult and perhaps impossible goal of safe nuclear power."
Alexander Glaser, assistant professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
"Fatal Isolation is a riveting account of the social, cultural, and political forces that made France so vulnerable during the historic 2003 heat wave, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of urban life on an overheated planet. Along the way, Richard Keller takes up deep and unsettling questions about what we can and cannot know about the recent past. It's a memorable, haunting book."
andquot;When does urban social policy become thanatopolitics? In Fatal Isolation the 2003 Paris heat wave becomes a site for thinking about excessive, anonymous, forgotten death. Keller goes in search of corpses in a space without narrative, and brings back valuable fragments of anecdotal lives. This is a dense and compelling history with implications for France and beyond.andquot;
andquot;Masterful. Keller synthesizes disparate sources of information into an impressive new explanation of the heat-wave deaths. More broadly, he demonstrates how social status, not only geographical location, predicts survival during natural disasters.andquot;
On March 11, 2011, an earthquake large enough to knock the earth off its axis hit off the coast of Japan, sending the largest tsunami in Japanese history speeding towards the Japanese coast, where the aging nuclear power reactors at Fukushima Daiichi sat vulnerable. Over the following weeks, the world watched in horror as a natural disaster became a manmade catastrophe as failsafes failed, reactors cooling systems shut down, and the nuclear rods inside melted.
In the first definitive account of the Fukushima disaster, two of the leaders of the Union of Concerned Scientists, David Lochbaum and Edwin Lyman, team up with journalist Susan Stranahan, the lead reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirers Pulitzer Prize–winning coverage of the Three Mile Island accident, to tell the harrowing story of Fukushima in vivid detail while simultaneously illuminating the science of nuclear power and safety that we all need to know. The Union of Concerned Scientists brings unassailable scientific and moral authority to what is, finally, a very human story of danger, hubris, and tragedy.
In a cemetery on the southern outskirts of Paris lie the bodies of nearly a hundred of what some have called the first casualties of global climate change. They were the so-called abandoned victims of the worst natural disaster in French history, the devastating heat wave that struck in August 2003, leaving 15,000 dead. They died alone in Paris and its suburbs, and were then buried at public expense, their bodies unclaimed. They died, and to a great extent lived, unnoticed by their neighbors--their bodies undiscovered in some cases until weeks after their deaths.
Fatal Isolation tells the stories of these victims and the catastrophe that took their lives. It explores the multiple narratives of disaster--the official story of the crisis and its aftermath, as presented by the media and the state; the life stories of the individual victims, which both illuminate and challenge the ways we typically perceive natural disasters; and the scientific understandings of disaster and its management. Fatal Isolation is both a social history of risk and vulnerability in the urban landscape and a story of how a city copes with emerging threats and sudden, dramatic change.
About the Author
David Lochbum is the head of the Union of Concerned Scientists Nuclear Safety Project, and is the author of Nuclear Waste Disposal Crisis. He lives in Tennessee and is frequently invited to testify before Congress on nuclear safety matters. Edwin Lyman is a senior scientist in the Global Security Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and was formerly president of the Nuclear Control Institute. He has published many articles and letters on nuclear issues, and lives in Washington, D.C. Susan Stranahan has written about nuclear energy and the environment for more than three decades, and is the author of Susquehanna, River of Dreams. Her reporting on Three Mile Island for the Philadelphia Inquirer earned that publication a Pulitzer Prize. She lives in Maine.
Table of Contents
1 Stories, Suffering, and the State: The Heat Wave and Narratives of Disaster
2 Anecdotal Life: Isolation, Vulnerability, and Social Marginalization
3 Place Matters: Mortality, Space, and Urban Form
4 Vulnerability and the Political Imagination: Constructing Old Age in Postwar France
5 Counting the Dead: Risk and the Limits of Epidemiology