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The Atomic Times: My H-Bomb Year at the Pacific Proving Ground Hardcover – September 27, 2005
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About the Author
MICHAEL HARRIS began writing The Atomic Times in 1955 when he was an army draftee stationed on Eniwetok and finished fifty years later. In between, he married novelist Ruth Harris and spent years as a public relations executive at CBS Television, eleven of them on The Ed Sullivan Show — he was the first person to welcome the Beatles to America on their initial trip to the United States. Mr. Harris’s Always On Sunday: An Inside View of Ed Sullivan, the Beatles, Elvis, Sinatra & Ed’s Other Guests is also available on Kindle.
Top customer reviews
Michael Harris gives an unvarnished look at the daily boredom, the petty tyrants, explosive violence, and uncertainty of knowing that they were being exposed to radiation - when no one really knew the long-term effects.
The book essentially covers his year of duty on the island. It is told in a conversational style like he's telling you war stories around a kitchen table. A little editing could have tightened up an already-interesting story.
Thank you for your service, Mr. Harris.
That's really all that needs to be said, but you probably want more. As mentioned on many other reviews this book brings to mind "Catch-22" and "Dr. Strangelove". I'd like to add "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" to the list.
For a year, Harris was stationed at the Enewetak Atoll during Operation Redwing in 1956 whil 17 nuclear bomb detonations occurred there and at Bikini Atoll. Some men were drawn to the assignment because they were told there were 2 women behind every tree - but the joke was on them because there were no trees. There was also no leave - for 12 months.
Stuck on a treeless island no more than a mile in length and dominated by the airstrip, forced to stand at attention for each of 17 bomb tests, some of which missed their target, sounds like torture enough, but the recounting of the times of fallout, listening to the Geiger counters tick, is beyond my imagination. And beyond the limits of the minds of the men stuck in this hell on earth.
This book is a study of insanity, and the real-life cast could be from Heller's and Kesey's fiction. The obsessive behaviors of enlisted men driven over the edge, the violence that occurs when the need for sexual release and mob behavior combine, the abuse incurred on the men by officers who cannot reconcile their own survival with an obligation to the military. Harris tells the stories of the victims, the aggressors, the brave and the changed with insight and dark humor while describing his own battle with the madness brought on by constant danger, daily tedium and an overwhelming sense of helplessness.
I will have to read more of Harris's work. If he can make a memoir come alive like he did this one, then what can he do with fiction?
I hartely reccommend this book as an historical and an entertaining read!