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Starred Review. In this fine piece of journalism, Zoellnerdoes for uranium what he did for diamonds in The Heartless Stone—he delves into the complex science, politics and history of this radioactive mineral, which presents the best and worst of mankind: the capacity for scientific progress and political genius; the capacity for nihilism, exploitation, and terror. Because Zoellner covers so much ground, from the discovery of radioactivity, through the development of the atomic bomb, he doesn't go into great depth on any one topic. Nonetheless, he superbly paints vivid pictures of uranium's impact, including forced labor in Soviet mines and lucky prospectors who struck it rich in harsh environments, the spread of uranium smuggling, as well as an explanation of why it was absurd to claim that Saddam Hussein was attempting to purchase significant quantities of uranium from Niger. The only shortcoming is Zoellner's omission of the issue of radioactive wastes generated by nuclear power—a significant problem given the possibility of a growing reliance on nuclear power. (Mar. 9)
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In an element low on the periodic table, Zoellner discovers the focus for events at the top of the world’s list of troubles. Having traveled extensively through the savannas of Africa, the mountains of Eastern Europe, and the deserts of Utah, Zoellner knows well what uranium looks like, why peril pulses in its every atom, and how scientists exploit its nuclear volatility. But most readers will find the drama not in the science but in the weaponry uranium has spawned—terribly demonstrated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In pursuit of this raw power, the U.S. let Navajos die extracting needed ore and let southwestern cities sicken beneath clouds from reckless testing. The Soviet Union sentenced tens of thousands to lethal gulag mines. Israel diverted ore through deception on the high seas. Pakistan stole European refining technology. Alive with devious personalities, Zoellner’s narrative ultimately exposes the frightening vulnerability of a world with too many sources of a dangerous substance and too little wisdom to control it. A riveting journey into perilous terrain. --Bryce ChristensenSee all Editorial Reviews
One of my favorite books of all time. It really does read like a novel at different points. A wealth of interesting information about one of the most influential substances on... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Anonymous
This is an interesting book covering a mix of geopolitics and mining. However several of the critical 'facts' about Australia (I am an Australian) are very inaccurate which makes... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Keith Frampton
first let me say i am a science geek and a history buff. i started this book and couldn't put it down. this is a well researched well thought out book. Read morePublished 7 months ago by jeremy sandusky
My only complaint is that the author does not adequately address that uranium is a finite resource and has a depletion curve. See http://www.roperld.com/science/uranium.htm . Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
really truly was about the element and its history of use and disuse. Got a little bored at the end.Published 13 months ago by cinderbean
Very informative and well researched. I did not realize that Uranium was so widely sought after and so widely available.Published 13 months ago by Dorothy Rhodes