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Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective Hardcover – March 22, 2004

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520239401 ISBN-10: 0520239407 Edition: First Edition

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* As the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear accident approaches, the official historian of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) provides "the first comprehensive scholarly account" of the incident--and the first major study of the subject in more than 20 years. Walker, who has authored or coauthored three previous books on U.S. nuclear-power regulation during his 20 years at the NRC, opens this volume with three chapters of context: a description of the public debate over nuclear power before TMI, a survey of the history of U.S. regulation of this controversial power source, and a useful explanation of the design elements and operational techniques U.S. nuclear plants used to prevent accidents if possible and to minimize the impact of any unpreventable accidents. Chapters 4 through 8 anatomize the events of March 28 through April 1, 1979, at Three Mile Island and in the state and national capitals (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.), while chapters 9 and 10 review the immediate and long-term impact of those five frightening days. Thoroughly researched administrative history; includes photos, notes, and a useful essay on sources. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"Riveting . . . [The book] gives a graphic insight into the chaos and confusion of the five-day crisis." -- Rob Edwards, New Scientist

"Thoroughly researched administrative history." -- Mary Carroll, Booklist Starred Review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 314 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (March 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520239407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520239401
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,207,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tognetti TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It is hard to believe but it has been some 25 years since America's worst nuclear accident took place. In "Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Persepctive" author J. Samuel Walker takes a look back at the tragic events that upset us all so much back in March of 1979. Eminently qualified to undertake this project, Walker succeeds in presenting all sides of this extremely complicated and highly controversial subject matter. Was equipment failure the chief culprit here or was human error more to blame? Aside from attempting to explain exactly what happened on that fateful day, Walker spends a considerable amount of time evaulating why the various players in this saga reacted they way they did. This book is meticulously researched and fairly well written but I must admit that at times I got lost with all of the scientific jargon that was necessarily included. In the long run I feel that "Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Persepctive" will prove to be a terrific research volume. Having said that If you are like me and are not particularly well versed in the sciences it can be a somewhat difficult read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Richard Sedano on October 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. It creates context for the industry and its regulators as the TMI accident occurs, and then it reports the fascinating details that pushed the accident to the brink of affecting public health and safety and then pulled it back again. I think this book should be required reading for all public officials, federal, state, and local, who are in positions of responsibility to respond to a nuclear emergency. This book would help them stay humble and focused. Discussion on public health got close to sounding too sure that everything was and is fine in the TMI area -- not sure we know enough yet to say for sure.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert I. Hedges HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Three Mile Island" by J. Samuel Walker is a fine treatise on the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident in historical perspective. Walker deals less with the technical and physical aspects of the accident to take a more overarching view of the operations of TMI (and other nuclear plants) from a political, organizational, and managerial standpoint.

Walker is the official historian of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and as such has spent the bulk of his professional life researching and documenting nuclear issues. He is a lucid and interesting writer for anyone interested in the material at hand. I recommend this book unequivocally. I further recommend that this book be read in tandem with "Hostages of Each Other" by Joseph Rees, which is actually my favorite general account of regulatory interactions vis-a-vis TMI.

This is an excellent book to assist in grasping the complex regulatory, political, and corporate organizational influences in nuclear power, particularly relative to the TMI accident.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By matt8386 VINE VOICE on July 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book had interest for me since I was only a few minutes away from Three Mile Island when all of this was happening. I was 19 and there was a lot of talk of a core melt down, centuries of devestation in central Pennsylvania, and tremendous loss of life. The movie The China Syndrom had just been released, talk about life imitating art!

The author begins by stating that he was employed by the Nuclear Reform Committee and says that he tried not to let that bias or influence his reporting of the events. I think it is a very balanced account of what happened.

The book begins by tracing the government regulatory bodies of atomic power, the industry and public response (started off favorable, then protests began to arise). This is where the book is the driest, but even so, the author it is interesting - Walker does a good job showing the failings of all three groups - both those for and against nuclear power.

The story of the accident is somewhat technical, but I thought pretty accessible. Part of the problems dealt with the inability to get quick information from the nuclear power plant to the decision makers. Telephones were overwhelmed. The instant communications we enjoy today did not exist back then. Both pro and anti nuclear proponents used this event to support their versions of what was best for the US.

I gave it four stars - it is compelling if you were there or have an interest in this topic, but it can be dry. I would have liked to have seen photos of the damaged core. And after doing a great job in the first two sections of the book giving the history and events of TMI, it just kind of stops. I would have liked to learn more about the clean up.

TMI was a scary event - yet no one died.
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