A gripping memoir leavened by humor, loyalty, and pride of accomplishment, this is the story of a young man's tour of duty at the Atomic Energy Commission's Pacific Proving Ground at Eniwetok.A gripping memoir leavened by humor, loyalty, and pride of accomplishment, this is the story of a young man's tour of duty at the Atomic Energy Commission's Pacific Proving Ground at Eniwetok.Read Less
In 1980 ,prefatory to an upcoming shipboard tour, I attended a US Navy damage control school in Norfolk, VA. The centerpiece of the school curriculum on NBC warfare (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) was a tired and discredited 1950's vintage movie put out by the AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) called "The Atomic Cafe". It showed actual film footage of sailors jumping into Pacific atoll bomb craters 72 hours after the test "shot", and the narrator in the segment (and throughout the film) spoke in soothing tones about the overrated dangers of residual nuclear radiation, and espoused the government position that nuclear warfare was pretty much like any other warfare except the strength of the detonations were magnitudes larger. In that class there were 4 of us "Mustangs" (direct commission officers selected from enlisted ) and about 20 very young first tour personnel. The four of us were incredulous that--with 30 years of scientific evidence to the contrary--the Navy/DoD would still attempt to allay fears of nuclear conflict with such blatant propaganda. It turns out that the propaganda started just as soon as did the atomic age. "The Atomic Times" is a superb, candid, and graphic narrative of a "test subject" who survived what is now regarded by most knowledgeable military veterans as one of the greatest breaches of trust between the men who served and the government they were sworn to serve. It is for the most part, a fast paced and well written text that traces Mr. Harris's physical and psychological evolution from the day of his arrival on Eniwetok , through several nuclear shots conducted on that island, to his present day thoughts and conclusions. For those of us who gladly followed in military service after those years, it is a sobering memoir that calls into question whether the military careers we pursued when we were "10 feet tall and bulletproof" (and woefully innocent) were simply unappreciated offerings to a deceitful government.
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