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The Firecracker Boys: H-Bombs, Inupiat Eskimos, and the Roots of the Environmental Movement Paperback – November 6, 2007
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While Project Chariot first arrived, and met its doom, in a remote quarter of the globe, this story is firmly fixed on the world stage. This is not the anecdotal story of a failed gimmick; rather, this is the genesis of the movement towards limiting nuclear power, recognizing environmental impact, and treating Alaska Natives as more than haphazard bystanders to industrial progress. People, personalities, subplots, and larger impacts for the whole of humanity enliven this story and give Project Chariot a rich context. I whole-heartedly recommend this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from both the perspective of someone who has lived in Alaska and from the perspective of someone interested in federally mandated science projects. Dan O'Neill does a good job of distilling out the huge amount of information and misinformation that surrounds the events leading up to Project Chariots termination. This book describes the early days of nuclear testing, the scientific innovations that catalyzed many of today's current policies regarding nuclear energy and the personalities involved.Read more ›
It’s hard to comprehend the lunacy of it today, but Project Chariot was a serious proposal by the Atomic Energy Commission to “geographically engineer” a deep-water harbor on the northwest coast of Alaska by detonating a series of thermonuclear explosions. That’s right: hydrogen bombs.
Three major themes jumped out at me from the book.
First: There is an inexorable structural bias that causes local interests to be seduced by the promise of short-term financial benefits such as employment or tax revenues. That is why many local politicians, businesses and communities initially embraced Project Chariot, just as they do more contemporary examples like the Keystone XL Pipeline or oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s arctic.
Second: Development interests, often in the form of government, almost always provide reassurance that there is little or nothing to fear, whether in the form of nuclear radiation from Project Chariot blasts, human impacts on climate change, oil exploration in the arctic ocean, or mining activities in the headwaters of salmon streams.
Third: The most effective organizers operate at a grass-roots level. Project Chariot garnered the attention of local activists like Ginny Wood and Celia Hunter. Before long, they had helped organize the Alaska Conservation Society, which launched successful campaigns to establish what is now known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to defeat Project Chariot from proceeding.
These themes still resonate today across a broad spectrum of threats to the environment, ranging from climate change to fracking to offshore oil exploration.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Impressive incorporation of scientific research and cultural response! Written in a era when research ethics were optional, this documentary reinforces place-based accountability... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Anne Brenner Armstrong
Great story about real scientists doing the right thing for humanity. Should be a must read for science majors in college.Published 5 months ago by Hanna Schott
Should be required reading in high-school funny how we brush things under the carpet...!Published 16 months ago by Olympus Mons
The book was very good. The author gave an in depth approach of what was happening to the Alaskan people and Project Chariot.Published 17 months ago by Cook E
long overdue for reading this important book about Alaska and Atomic Commission. It was a great read and a lesson for all of us how a few did not want radiation but the majority... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Marian Johnson
Dan O'Neill does what few authors of this genre are capable of... he remains OBJECTIVE about a subject which he feels very passionate about. Read morePublished on March 6, 2014 by TheProfessorAndMaryAnn