Nuclear power is a technology that is still very young, and most of us all have a very natural fear of its power. Downwind takes us to the dark time of the above-ground nuclear testing that happened in our very own back yard, and is very critical of those of us who call these western states home. Most importantly, this story is about how the government manages its secrets and clean-up. Without huge breakthroughs in cutting edge batteries for bio-solar or fusion power, nuclear power inevitably will play a much bigger role as mankind is forced into a more desperate fight against climate change. But citizens will need more trust and more knowledge to embrace nuclear expansion. There is only one way for that to happen, open and accountable government. A must read for the future ahead.— Drew
Downwind is an unflinching tale of the atomic West that reveals the intentional disregard for the inhabitants and the environment in nuclear testing by the federal government and in uranium extraction by mining corporations during and after the Cold War.
Sarah Alisabeth Fox interviews residents of the Great Basin region affected by environmental contamination from the uranium industry and nuclear testing fallout. Those residents tell tales of communities ravaged by cancer epidemics, farmers and ranchers economically ruined by massive crop and animal deaths, and Native miners working in dangerous conditions without proper safety equipment so that the government could surreptitiously study the effects of radiation on humans.
In chilling detail, Downwind brings to light the stories and concerns of these groups whose voices have been silenced and marginalized for decades in the name of “patriotism” and “national security.”
With the renewed boom in mining in the American West, Fox’s look at this hidden history, unearthed from years of field interviews, archival research, and epidemiological studies, is a must-read for every American concerned about the fate of our western lands and communities.
About the Author
Sarah Alisabeth Fox is a freelance writer and editor. Her articles and reviews have appeared in Montana, the Magazine of Western History and Western Historical Quarterly.
— David Mills
— Michael Wise
— Leisl Carr Childers
— Thomas Wellock
— Andrew Kirk
— High Country News
“Comprehensive and incisive, Downwind also adds heart and soul to an epic story of resilience in the aftermath of reckless arrogance. Sarah Fox gives the history of the nuclear age back to the people who had it written in their bones. The testimony she captured is both shocking and inspiring.”—Chip Ward, author of Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West
— Chip Ward