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Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age Hardcover – January 24, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"Hamblin's examination of radioactive waste dumping in Europe and America is an important and valuable study, particularly for those interested in the role of science, technology, and environment in modern life.
(Ronald Rainger Professor of History, Texas Tech University 2099-01-01)

"A fascinating account of the role of health physicists and marine scientists in the international politics and public relations of dumping radioactive waste at sea.
(John Krige author of American Hegemony and the Postwar Reconstruction of Science in Europe 2099-01-01)

"Poison in the Well tells how British and American nuclear scientists have handled radioactive wastes since World War II, despite uncertainty about long-term genetic and somatic effects, creating a legacy that will last for thousands of years. Interdisciplinary turf battles, government secrecy, and technological hubris all play a role in this well-constructed narrative.
(Robert W. Seidel professor of History of Science and Technology, University of Minnesota 2099-01-01)

"This impressively researched and judiciously argued book challenges readers to think in new ways about what happens when science, politics, and the environment intersect."
(American Historical Review 2008-12-01)

"Hamblin's study is timely and absorbing, discussing an aspect of the history of atomic energy programmes on which very little has been known. Poison in the Well is an incredibly precious expose"
(British Journal for the History of Science 2009-01-01)

"An excellent and balanced book. Hamblin's story is compelling and complex. By avoiding simple conclusions, he provides great insight into Cold War international relations, the dilemmas of going nuclear, the difficulty in determining risk, and the continuing problems we face with untested or newly tested technologies."
(Journal of American History 2009-03-01)

About the Author

Jacob Darwin Hamblin is an assistant professor of history at Clemson University.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (January 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813542200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813542201
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,721,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Jacob Darwin Hamblin is a historian who writes about science, technology, and the environment. He was born in Germany and grew up on or near American military bases, before going to college and graduate school in California, where he earned a Ph.D. in History at UC Santa Barbara. As an adult he has lived and worked in France, England, and several universities in the United States. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, and many publications devoted to the history of science, technology, and the natural world. He currently resides in the American Pacific Northwest, where he is a professor of history at Oregon State University.

Hamblin is the author of Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism, a book that challenges us to consider how much our views of global environmental change come from collaboration between scientists and the military as they planned to fight, and to survive, a third world war. His previous book, Poison in the Well: Radioactive Waste in the Oceans at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age, was the first international history of one of the least-understood environmental controversies of the twentieth century. An earlier book, Oceanographers and the Cold War, explores the true reasons for the explosive growth of the marine sciences after World War II.

Jacob Darwin Hamblin is married, has two daughters, and lives in Corvallis, Oregon.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By cvairag VINE VOICE on June 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Unequivocally, the most depressing book on Amazon. The most damning critique of industrialization. How anyone could have been stupid enough to dump tons of nuclear waste into the Baltic and waterways emptying into the Atlantic has got to be the terminal rhetorical question we will never live to answer. I feel sick simply looking at this heavily documented tome. Yes. This mess really did happen. Who can help us?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By s.k. wakley on July 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Having grown up in the span of time covered in this book,(and not paying much attention), I found myself often aghast at the waste disposal practices and the decisions made by the corporate "they" who determine our fate. Green devotees will be appalled to learn the global history of cavalier dumping of toxic waste into our waterways. This is not a sensational expose, but rather a well researched, extremely well-written illumination of what was going on with regard to radioactive waste in the beginning years of our modern nuclear age. It should be required reading for all environmental studies.
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