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Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War Paperback – February 10, 1998

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520213739 ISBN-10: 0520213734

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Reading this fascinating and fairly written book is the best way to understand the moral dilemma that has haunted the inventors of high explosives, from Alfred Nobel to J. Robert Oppenheimer. . . . An anthropologist with a keen sense of humor, Gusterson illuminates this thorough study with poignant details."--Roger Rapoport, "San Francisco Chronicle

From the Inside Flap

"An extremely important work. . . . It demonstrates the power that ethnographic analysis can have when directed at an examination of our own society's central nervous system."—Faye Ginsburg, author of Contested Lives

"Essential reading for anyone trying to understand what Cold War science was in all its cultural aspects and what this same science now in transformation might yet be."—George E. Marcus, co-editor of The Traffic in Culture
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (February 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520213734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520213739
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
An anthropologist looks at a nuclear weapons plant. Instead of making an exotic culture familiar, Gusterson takes apart the social workings of Livermore. In doing so, he shows that scientists aren't always rational, that there are elements of hazing rituals in an FBI background check, and that employees internalize their training to a fundamental level.
Intelligent, thorough, and an 8 out of 10 on the readability scale, this is a must for anyone skeptical that anything in the US is rational - least of all our nuclear weapons program. Five stars.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen on August 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have been working across the street from Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) as an intern at Sandia National Labs, and picked this book up in Sandia's library to get a better sense for the community around me.
The culture in a nuclear weapons lab is utterly unique. Coming from a background where most of my friends are against nuclear weapons, it is interesting to work among people who believe with their heart that what they're doing is good for society.
Hugh Gusterson does a great job at documenting the culture of the LLNL and how it fits in with the culture of Livermore, CA, and how it clashes with the culture of anti-nuclear weapons activists. Gusterson's objectivity is refreshing, and the material is fascinating.
If you've worked at a national lab, want to get into the minds of a nuclear weapons scientist, or just want to learn a bit about one of the US's biggest national laboratories, I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen on August 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have been working across the street from Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) as an intern at Sandia National Labs, and picked this book up in Sandia's library to get a better sense for the community around me.
Hugh Gusterson does a great job at documenting the culture of the LLNL scientists and how they face their jobs and those who protest them. This is a fascinating work by a keen anthropologist who has researched a culture that is foreign in its secrecy.
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