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The Green Flame: Surviving Government Secrecy Hardcover – August 1, 1991


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Amer Chemical Society (August 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0841218579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0841218574
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,156,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My first 8 years were happy, healthy, and prosperous. My next 3 years were something I would not want to re-live. The high school years were okay and I planned to be a writer. Then I won a scholarship to The University of Pittsburgh. I had been a welfare brat and knew I shouldn't "waste" a college scholarship on anything that wouldn't earn a decent living. So, I entered the U. of P. at age 16 and graduated with the B.S. in chemical engineering at age 20. After a brief, but happy, employment in the Research Lab of the Freedom-Valvoline Oil Co., I was drafted into the U.S. Army for the Korean war. There, I spent 2 years writing specifications for the Chemical Corps. After that, I accepted a job with Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp., working on a secret government project, not knowing what the job was or where it was.

So,for six years I worked on the High Energy Fuels program, playing with boron hydrides that were highly toxic, pyrophoric (self-igniting), and explosive in certain combinations. Four of our guys died in three sparate explosions. The project was suddenly closed in 1959 for excellent reasons. Of the thousands of people who had worked on that very expensive project, I was apparantly the only compulsive writer in the crowd. When I was sure that secrecy was no longer important, I began writing, "The Green Flame", the only book that really told the story. It was first published by The American Chemical Society in 1991 and is now an e-book.

In the meantime, I had written a humorous western novel, "THirsty", which was published in 1983. It was well-received, and is still available as a recorded book (Books In Motion, Spokane, WA), and recently available as an e-book, titled, "Sundown In Thirsty." A genuine NY agent offered to represent me if I would continue to write western humor. I gave the wrong answer (No) and hence my hodge-podge of 6 self-published books have not done well.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Olsen on July 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Outlining the US military's post-WWII borane-based fuel production project for an ultra-powerful jet fuel, Mr Dequasie's memoirs are a real treat. Borane compounds are notoriously unstable, and fires and explosions were an everyday hazard. Rarely are the nuts-and-bolts of working in a dangerous government lab described in such casual detail, and the author's simple explanations (usually of the 'if we don't do it right the explosion will send the reactor's lid thru the ceiling and pin to the wall anyone unlucky enough not to be behind a blast wall' variety) will be appreciated by the non-chemist. For several years I worked with the author's brother, Hank Dequasie, and so I derived a special delight from the read. Unfortunately out of print, 'The Green Flame' (boranes burn with an eerie green flame) is still a great read if you can find a copy.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was steered in this direction by the indispensable Derek Lowe and his chemistry blog. I'd previously found and purchased John Clark's _Ignition!_ by the same pathway. Green Flame is a fun read, and if it had been a dead-tree book (rather than on my laptop) I would say I couldn't put it down. But it's much more a biography than a discussion of the chemistry, and for that reason I prefer _Ignition!_. I'd buy and read the latter first; if you're still interested in the subject, consider Green Flame as an add-on.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Occasionally you get a good glimpse of life in fields you never even knew existed. (The TV show 'Dirty Jobs' is a prime example of that.) You goggle, you stare, you shudder - and come away feeling both glad you never took up that field and grateful that someone DID, because you benefit from it.

But for life before the constantly-on camera, you're going to have to go to the written word, and in this case you're looking at the memoirs of a man who made it through some exceedingly interesting (at least to me) development of fuels that never really made it into common use. (Imagine, if you will, the 10-gallon gas tank in your car, packed with the equivalent of 100 gallons worth of energy... that would destabilize and explode if bumped. Now imagine everyone else on the road with the same. Yeah, we're talking fuels like that...)

Andrew Dequasie's recounting of borated fuels development is both easy to read and astonishing in his matter-of-fact approach. He lays out the basics of his craft, describes the safety techniques used.. and what happened when those techniques weren't followed. It's a very neat slice of life in the '50s as well, with engaging descriptions of social activities told in a wry manner.

As history? It's great. As a compilation of 'Don't do this, it won't go well' production war stories, it's even better.
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Format: Kindle Edition
A story of interesting technical problems in the context of cold war military-industrial culture.
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