Book 116: The Age of Radiance by Craig Nelson


Would you dare to live in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant? Do you think the world will end in a nuclear holocaust?

The Age of Radiance by Craig Nelson

Finished reading on March 17th, 2014

Rating: 9/10

The Age of Radiance starts quite plainly with the discovery of radiation, and the history of nuclear physics beginning with Röntgen and Becquerel and the Curies and continuing to some of the uses of radioactive elements in atomic and hydrogen bombs and in nuclear power plants. The book also depicts the three best-known nuclear disasters – Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima.

It presents a comprehensive history, that sheds light to some of the aspects that normally remain hidden from the eyes of the general public – for example how much did radiation actually influence the health of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or what happened on Three Mile Island, the nuclear power plant of which is still in operation.

The Age of Radiance was a very interesting and in some ways enlightening read, combining history, science and eye-witness accounts.

One of the goals for this book was that it would dissolve some of the fears concerning everything that has the world “nuclear” or “atomic” in it, and I think it fulfills that goal, although it is difficult to see why some-one with radiophobia would even want to know more about what they’re afraid of.

However I think it’s definitely worth a read, the writing is clear and easy-to-follow.

Although it was a very good read, I was slightly repulsed by the part about Pierre and Marie Curie. For one, I don’t consider it necessary to have such graphic descriptions of a definitely tragic death under the wheels of a carriage – the gore in that chapter exceeds everything else in the book, which is definitely not what one would expect from a book about radiation that has so many other possibilities for awful and disgusting death and sickness….

The second was Marie Curie’s love affair, which in my opinion was totally unnecessary to even mention it in this book, not just because of the seriousness of the general topic and themes in the book, but because it has no obvious connection to the rest of it.

Except for those two little disturbances the book was excellent.

I received this book for review purposes from NetGalley.

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