My review of Michael Harris’ The Atomic Times


Catch-22 with radiation.
Area 51 meets Dr. Strangelove.
Except it really happened.

Operation Redwing, the biggest and baddest of America’s atmospheric nuclear weapons test regimes, mixed saber rattling with mad science, while overlooking the cataclysmic human, geopolitical and ecological effects. But mostly, it just messed with guys’ heads.

Major Maxwell, who put Safety First, Second and Third. Except when he didn’t.
Berko, the wise-cracking Brooklyn Dodgers fan forced to cope with the H-bomb and his mother’s cookies.
Tony, who thought military spit and polish plus uncompromising willpower made him an exception.
Carl Duncan, who clung to his girlfriend’s photos and a dangerous secret.
Major Vanish, who did just that.

In THE ATOMIC TIMES, Michael Harris welcomes readers into the U.S. Army’s nuclear family where the F-words were Fallout and Fireball. In a distinctive narrative voice, Harris describes his H-bomb year with unforgettable imagery and insight into the ways isolation and isotopes change men for better–and for worse.

4 Stars

I quite enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read. I had read the free excerpt before regarding one of the first tests and was expecting it to center more on the tests than his overall experiences on the island. At first I was slightly disappointed, but it was simply a matter of my expectations being off comparing the excerpt with the full work.

The descriptions of how the people acted while stuck out there, the utterly ridiculous and sheer stupidity of the military’s decisions were quite startling. Not that the military doing something with its head stuck up its posterior is anything new, just that they intentionally exposed so many of their soldiers and sailors to unnecessary risks and damaged not only their physical health but their mental health as well. I fervently hope whomever was in charge of Operation Redwing and made the decisions to endanger so many lives ended up with a very long, painful and debilitating disease (and yes, I realize I’m not being very Christian right now, it’s something I struggle with). I sincerely hope those who suffered through those tests were able to find a way to cope with what they went through.

It really shouldn’t surprise me that the military would expose their men unnecessarily like they did. Our government has a tradition nearly as long as our country is old of not living up to its stated promises. Just in the 20th century we saw our men abandoned in Russia without support near the end of WWI, US POWs abandoned to the Soviet Union in WWII, to North Korea at the end of the Korean conflict, and to the Vietnamese when we withdrew from Vietnam. We exposed infectious diseases to multitudes of population centers around the country without informing the civilians so that we could study the spread of disease and the available treatments. Our government really has no shame when it comes to treating it’s citizens and soldiers poorly. Not that we’re alone in that, we appear to be just like everyone else.

The eBook was formatted well with no obvious spelling or grammatical errors.