By Craig Nelson
From the hot York occasions bestselling writer of Rocket males and the award-winning biographer of Thomas Paine comes the 1st entire historical past of the Atomic Age, a super, magisterial account of the lads and ladies who exposed the secrets and techniques of the nucleus, introduced its strength to the USA, and ignited the 20th century.
When Marie Curie, Enrico Fermi, and Edward Teller solid the technological know-how of radioactivity, they created a revolution that arced from the tip of the 19th century, during the process global warfare II and the chilly conflict of superpower brinksmanship, to our personal twenty-first-century war of words with the hazards of nuclear energy and proliferation—a historical past of paradox, miracle, and nightmare. whereas nuclear technological know-how improves our daily lives—from drugs to microwave technology—radiation’s invisible powers can set off melanoma and mobile mayhem. Writing with a biographer’s ardour, Craig Nelson unlocks one of many nice mysteries of the universe in a piece that's tragic, successful, and specially, fascinating.
From the invention of X-rays within the Eighteen Nineties, in the course of the start of nuclear strength in an deserted Chicago soccer stadium, to the bomb developers of Los Alamos and the apocalyptic Dr. Strangelove period, Nelson illuminates a competition of interesting ancient figures: Marie and Pierre Curie, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Franklin Roosevelt, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Harry Truman, Curtis LeMay, John F. Kennedy, Robert McNamara, Ronald Reagan, and Mikhail Gorbachev, between others. He unearths how awesome Jewish scientists fleeing Hitler remodeled the USA from a state that created lightbulbs and phones into one who break up atoms; how the main gruesome weapon ever invented may perhaps become aware of Alfred Nobel’s lifelong dream of world peace; and the way, in our time, emergency employees and low-level software staff fought to comprise run-amok nuclear reactors whereas puzzling over in the event that they could stay or die.
Radiance defies our common sense perspectives of nature, with its dazzling quantities of power flowing from doubtless inert rock and topic pulsing in half-lives that transforms into different states over the process many years or within the blink of an eye fixed. Radiation is as frightening a notice as melanoma, yet it’s the facility that retains our planet hot, in addition to the strength at the back of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, and so natural to all lifestyles that even our personal human our bodies are radioactive. via tracing mankind’s complex dating with the damaging strength it came across and unleashed, Nelson finds how atomic strength and radiation are indivisible from our daily lives.
Brilliantly informed and masterfully crafted, The Age of Radiance presents a brand new realizing of a misunderstood epoch in heritage and restores to prominence the forgotten heroes and heroines who've replaced all of our lives for higher and for worse. It confirms Craig Nelson’s place as some of the most energetic and skillful renowned historians writing today.
“Nelson writes a perfectly specified, anecdote-filled account of atomic power, from Wilhelm Roentgen’s 1895 discovery of radiation to the continued hangover of the Fukushima disaster.… different authors have lined the myriad methods this invisible energy affects our lives, yet Nelson brilliantly weaves a plethora of fabric into one noteworthy volume.” (Publisher’s Weekly (starred review))
“A sweeping landscape of the nuclear age, from Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery of X-rays to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe, paying specific recognition to the colourful scientists whose brilliance and diligence unlocked the secrets and techniques of the atom.… Nelson tells their tales vividly, with a journalist’s eye for symmetry and irony; the technological know-how itself is, now and then, much less important to his narrative than the fusion-reactions of interacting scientists and executive officials.” (Booklist)
“This isn't any impersonal “march of science” tale. the writer additionally indicates how the improvement of nuclear physics used to be deeply motivated through modern politics and the interaction of the personalities concerned. an interesting background that increases provocative questions on the way forward for nuclear science.” (Kirkus (starred review))
“Wow! Craig Nelson’s The Age of Radiance is just like the better of John McPhee combined with the page-turning glory of a science-fiction mystery. an impressive storyteller, Nelson takes even the main atomized of info and spins a blinding historical past of the Atomic Age. This e-book offers x-ray glasses: After studying it you actually can’t stroll down the road with out seeing every little thing in our international anew.” (Doug Stanton, writer of Horse squaddies and In Harm’s Way)
“As he did with the distance application in Rocket males, within the Age of Radiance Craig Nelson has introduced an period and an ethos to existence. even as, he’s played a fair tougher job: he’s made either the clinical and political complexities of the atomic period understandable and transparent.” (Daniel Okrent, writer of final name)