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Atomic Awakening: A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power
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Atomic Awakening: A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  66 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The American public's introduction to nuclear technology was manifested in destruction and death. With Hiroshima and the Cold War still ringing in our ears, our perception of all things nuclear is seen through the lens of weapons development. Nuclear power is full of mind-bending theories, deep secrets, and the misdirection of public consciousness, some deliberate, some ac...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 23rd 2009 by Pegasus
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Angie
The subtitle of this book, "A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power", is not exactly accurate. The book was not what I expected it to be. So let me catalog what the book was.

1) First 100 pages or so take us through the history of knowledge about the atom, and he finally gets to the discovery of the neutron in 1933. While fairly accurate and amusing, with little witty comments thrown in, I still don't know why this section is in this book.

2) Next 100 pages or so are spent on the Man...more
Ilya
Dec 25, 2010 Ilya rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: energy
This is a book-length US-centric history of nuclear power. In 1954 the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of the United States gave a speech that claimed that nuclear power would produce energy "too cheap to meter" within the lifetimes of children living at that time. This didn't happen. After an initial period of enthusiasm, it was realized that nuclear electricity will remain more expensive than electricity obtained by burning coal, and widespread recycling (especially of electricity-hun...more
Duncan Findlater
The books spends a surprising amount of time ensuring you have a solid grounding in the beginnings of practical nuclear research. It then goes on to make a very sound and reasoned case for nuclear power generation. It also debunks a great deal of the media hysteria on the topic. Highly recommended to anyone wanting to see how nuclear power is both safer than you probably imagine and is becoming one of the only realistic options available.
Terry
Stunningly good. The author is a nuclear engineer with penchant for storytelling and goes into delightful detail about attempts to use nuclear power for both military and peaceful purposes. I say excellent storytelling as there are a continuous steam of problems followed by their ingenious solutions (some of which are apocryphal, which the author notes) along with both hidden triumphs and public failures.

The author includes copious footnotes which add significantly to the text and these notes ar...more
Marc Brodeur
A pragmatic engineer's concise history of nuclear from about 1800-1990, when TMI and Chernobyl stopped all innovation.

His main premise is that nuclear technology is well understood by the scientific community, but that it was over-hyped to the public by politicians. It was even worse that the chief use of the technology was to create destruction never before known, and in the middle of the cold war, the US didn't really do much to change that image.

Nuclear was ahead of its time. Coal was (and i...more
Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
After reading far too many pop-science accounts of the history, absurdity, and latent marvels of quantum mechanics, I can resolutely declare this the sharpest account out there. Mahaffey as a writer is certainly not one of those cocksure, touchy-feely Iowa Workshop types, the kind who lurches for Truth amid subjects for which he has no training. But neither is he so indoctrinated by the myopic demands of scientific rigor that he can't let himself digress into titillation, cynicism, and sublime t...more
Becky
Jul 27, 2010 Becky rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 20s
I've read "Power to Save the World" which is also a book about nuclear power and this book is a more about the history of nuclear power and the nuclear age and how it all came about. It mostly deals with atomic weapons but gives some great information about the nuclear age. It also has brief bios of some of the big names in nuclear. It's not super technical so anyone can understand it and if you find it too technical, then just keep reading because you don't need to understand it all to get a go...more
Cole Schoolland
A great overview of the history of nuclear power. This highly-accessible book breaks down some of the more daunting concepts into forms that are easily met and understood. I would recommend this book to ANYONE who is interested in the concept of nuclear power. Mahaffey had a wonderfully enlightening perspective that accurately summed up the current state of Nuclear affairs worldwide. I only wish he would have waited another year or so to write in order to include the recent events at Fukushima....more
Anthony Nuccio
A very interesting and educational read about the history of nuclear power. However, Mahaffey's ax with the anti-nuclear and anti-science communities does detract from the enjoyment of this book.
T Dale
Feb 18, 2010 T Dale added it
I learned that nuclear powerplants are way safer than I thought possible. I enjoyed the auther, James Mahaffey's easy-flow writing style. Perhaps my background as a high school physics teacher infuenced my interest in this book, but I also loved the parts where he tied in Google Earth images to places he described in his book. Beware the Lat/Long in footnote No. 234 Page 332 has the first two numbers of the latitude reversed for the location of the "Lethal Fence" north of Atlanta, Georgia. You r...more
Jason
I started this book and it seems interesting but checking the reviews I see complaints about flaws and no response - no point in reading a book about science with scientific, data, info errors - already seems to error in omission (this more easily excused). I need to find something similar without similar complaints about accuracy.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R17LBWZF...
Joseph
While at times this book was like reading a textbook, I really liked it. The author did a good job balancing the science with interesting stories. The flow was a little weird at times as the author jumped around a little this is a great read. This book reminded me how Physics is f=un as my high school teacher used to say.
Michael Wallace
More history than future, but full of interesting anecdotes and frustrating might-have-beens. What if we'd used safer thorium reactors instead? What if nuclear power had been developed before the nuclear bomb? Recommended for anyone interested in energy issues.
Daniel
A fascinating look at the history of nuclear power (both civilian and military). Well written, but very little information about current nuclear power like the title would suggest.
Kevvy
The author said it would be an impartial book but you know, you know. But it is very informative. Good read.
Matthew
excellent book. I loved it especially the last third of the book
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