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The Rise of Nuclear Fear

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  37 ratings  ·  5 reviews
After a tsunami destroyed the cooling system at Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, triggering a meltdown, protesters around the world challenged the use of nuclear power. Germany announced it would close its plants by 2022. Although the ills of fossil fuels are better understood than ever, the threat of climate change has never aroused the same visceral dread or swift ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published 2012 by Harvard University Press
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John Lindberg
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book, masterful creation of a strong narrative that does lead the reader through the decades. A must for anyone interested in nuclear history, climate change or fear narrative creation
Michael Burnam-Fink
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, energy, history
This is the definitive history of the psychology of the atom, from the discovery of radium to Fukushima. Weart shows how nuclear science has since its inception blended together various hopes and fears, taking on various aspects of a universal narrative that could be summarized as "the scientist/alchemist unlocks immense secrets to build utopia, but due to his human flaws winds up corrupting nature and destroying himself instead." The concrete realities of the atomic bomb and the nuclear power i ...more
Angie Reisetter
Jan 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-related
This book by a cultural historian is, as he says in his afterword, not about our actual problems, but the things that distract us from them. And in that sense, I guess, I was somewhat disappointed in it. I was just hoping for some more scientific information. But it is what it is. And it's really well written. Lots of, well, cultural information.

But I wouldn't say it's balanced. He does characterize the two sides of the nuclear debate as the antinuclear movement and rational thought. It feels mo
...more
John
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Masterly and balanced account of a crucial piece of modern history: how the discovery of the nuclear atom and subsequent developments of nuclear weapons and nuclear power came to take over pre-existing myths and fears already active in the collective psyche of humanity. This is of crucial importance for the future of humanity since it has led mass movements and even some populist governments (Germany, Italy, Switzerland ...) to irrationally spurn or retard the development (UK, USA, ...) the best ...more
Jani-Petri
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it


Very balanced and well written book on the cultural history of how the fear of all things nuclear appeared. This book details how imagery of religions, alchemy, science fiction, Hollywood films etc. got mixed up with the fear and politics of nuclear weapons during the cold war. There is also a detailed discussion on the different mindset of "scientists" and "antis" which goes a long way in explaining why sensible discussion on energy policies has become so difficult.
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