2022 Winner of the Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction
by Jacob Darwin Hamblin
A groundbreaking narrative of how the United States offered the promise of nuclear technology to the developing world and its gamble that other nations would use it for peaceful purposes.
After the Second World War, the United States offered a new kind of atom that differed from the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This atom would cure diseases, produce new foods, make deserts bloom, and provide abundant energy for all. It was an atom destined for the formerly colonized, recently occupied, and mostly non-white parts of the world that were dubbed the wretched of the earth by Frantz Fanon.
As The Wretched Atom shows, promoting civilian atomic energy was an immense gamble, and it was never truly peaceful. American promises ended up exporting violence and peace in equal measure. While the United States promised peace and plenty, it planted the seeds of dependency and set in motion the creation of today's expanded nuclear club.
The Oregon Book Awards are presented annually by Literary Arts, Inc. for the finest accomplishments by Oregon writers who work in the genres of Fiction, Poetry, Literary Nonfiction, Drama, and Young Readers Literature. Listed here are the winners in the General Nonfiction category. Since 2003, a second Nonfiction award for Creative Nonfiction has also been given.