By Rudolph Herzog
Within the spirit of Dr. Strangelove and The Atomic Café, a blackly sardonic people’s historical past of atomic mistakes and near-misses revealing the hushed-up and forgotten episodes within which the good powers gambled with catastropheRudolph Herzog, the acclaimed writer of lifeless humorous, offers a devastating account of history’s so much irresponsible makes use of of nuclear expertise. From the rarely-discussed nightmare of “Broken Arrows” (40 nuclear guns misplaced through the chilly struggle) to “Operation Plowshare” (a concept to exploit nuclear bombs for big engineering tasks, equivalent to a the development of a moment Panama Canal utilizing three hundred H-Bombs), Herzog focuses in on long-forgotten nuclear tasks that almost ended in disaster.In an unheard of people’s heritage, Herzog digs deep into files, interviews nuclear scientists, and collects dozens of infrequent pictures. He explores the “accidental” drop of a Nagasaki-type bomb on a educate conductor’s domestic, the implanting of plutonium into sufferers’ hearts, and the discovery of untamed tactical nukes, together with guns designed to kill enemy astronauts.Told in a riveting narrative voice, Herzog—the son of filmmaker Werner Herzog—also attracts on adolescence thoughts of the ultimate period of the chilly warfare in Germany, the rustic as soon as noticeable because the nuclear battleground for NATO and the Warsaw Pact international locations, and discusses facts that Nazi scientists knew easy methods to make atomic weaponry . . . and selected to not.
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Additional info for A Short History of Nuclear Folly
Even today, almost sixty years after the Soviet Union carried out atomic tests in Europe’s largest interior lake, much of what happened remains shrouded in darkness. One of the most intriguing eyewitness reports maintained that an underground atomic bomb was detonated on the border with Finland. According to this testimony, the Russian Navy constructed a scale model of Manhattan on the shore of the lake to test whether the city could be flooded by an artificially induced tsunami. But the story may by apocryphal.
Two of the islands in the Valaam archipelago that were used for the tests were given new names. Heisägenmaa, formerly part of Finland, became Suri, while Makarinari was rechristened Maly. The new names were an attempt to confuse Western intelligence services. There was a variety of reasons why Soviet authorities decided to use a fresh-water reservoir as a nuclear test site. The upper northern reaches of Russia were largely uninhabited, and thus the tests were “safe,” in the rather blinkered view of the Soviet military.
It had taken the United States years of massive industrial labor to collect the few kilograms of highly enriched uranium contained in Little Boy. The diffusion method the United States had used required tremendous amounts of energy and was extremely costly and inefficient. In fact, it was ill suited for a weapons program. Moreover, and even worse from the Soviet perspective, the details of this process were top secret. Ardenne’s promise to solve the problem of uranium isotope separation was a risky gambit.