Nuclear Reactions

Documenting American Encounters with Nuclear Energy

Edited by James W. Feldman
Foreword by Paul S. Sutter

  • Published: November 2016
  • Subject Listing: History / Environmental History; Environmental Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 352 pp., 10 bandw illus., 2 tables, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Classics
  • Contents

Nuclear Reactions explores the nuclear consensus that emerged in post-World War II America, characterized by widespread support for a diplomatic and military strategy based on nuclear weapons and a vision of economic growth that welcomed nuclear energy both for the generation of electricity and for other peaceful and industrial uses. Unease about the environmental consequences of nuclear energy and weapons development became apparent by the early 1960s and led to the first challenges to that consensus.

The documents in this collection address issues such as the arms race, "mutually assured destruction," the emergence of ecosystems ecology and the environmental movement, nuclear protests, and climate change. They raise questions about how nuclear energy shaped-and continues to shape-the contours of postwar American life. These questions provide a useful lens through which to understand the social, economic, and environmental tradeoffs embedded within American choices about the use and management of nuclear energy.
James Feldman is an associate professor of history and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. He is the author of A Storied Wilderness: Rewilding the Apostle Islands.

"A concise, well-chosen collection of diverse documents. This intersection of nuclear technology, risk politics, and environmental impacts is timely."
-Tom Wellock, historian for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission