Nuclear Nightmares

by
Abby Zimet

The recent revelation that the US Air Force came that close in 1961 to exploding an atom bomb over Goldsboro, North Carolina - one 260 times more powerful than Hiroshima's - turns out to be just one terrifying slip among dozens of secret or under-reported nuclear mistakes, accidents and near-misses over the past 50 years. Investigative journalist and Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser spent six years, often with the help of Freedom of Information requests, researching Command and Control, his new book documenting over 30 nuclear accidents on U.S. soil described in some 245 pages of official reports. Among his more startling findings: How often stupid little errors -  a busted socket wrench, the wrong screwdriver, rubber cushions catching on fire - led to near-catastrophe. Schlosser believes we have been "very, very, very, very, very fortunate" to not yet destroy ourselves, but his goal goes beyond terrifying us: He wants to halt Americans' "enormous amnesia" about the unthinkable hazard posed by nuclear weapons, and restart a dialogue about how to end it.

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