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Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  177 ratings  ·  39 reviews
On a tranquil summer night in July 2012, a trio of peace activists infiltrated the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Nicknamed the "Fort Knox of Uranium," Y-12 was reputedly one of the most secure nuclear weapons facilities in the world, a bastion of warhead parts that harbored hundreds of metric tons of highly-enriched uranium--enough to power thousa ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Blue Rider Press
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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Hank Stuever
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very proud of my colleague Dan Zak's book, "Almighty," which can most easily be described as the story of how three anti-nuke activists managed to break in to the Oak Ridge facility in 2012 (and the consequences of that action). On a much deeper and intelligently reported level, this is a book about how we've managed to essentially ignore and live with the dreadful fact of nuclear weapons in our lives, especially since the supposed end of the Cold War. There are facts and coincidences in this na ...more
Maria Rowan
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a tremendous book. I read it because I enjoy Dan Zak's work in the Washington Post, certainly including the article that the book is based on. The narrative thread is compelling and fascinating. For such a complex topic, this book is surprisingly easy to read. The personal stories are so interesting and you'll feel smarter after you read it. Highly recommend! ...more
Carol Wrzosek
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is expertly written and tells a powerful, riveting story that every American should read. It was meticulously researched and the author writes with insight and passion. Highly recommended!
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 2012 three senior citizens broke into the foremost maker of enriched uranium in the United States. Broke in is really taking it too far. They kind of just walked in, painted some messages in blood, then waited to get arrested. And oh, one of them was a nun. I really didn't need a reminder that we are always seconds away from being obliterated but this book is that reminder. There are still 17,000 nuclear weapons on the planet. And they are all many many times more powerful than the bombs drop ...more
Amy K.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, history
Statement of Disclosure: I was the author’s English teacher in both the eleventh and twelfth grades. He was brilliant then, and he’s only gotten better with age and experience.

I knew Dan was working on this book, and when the copy I’d ordered arrived in the mail, it had been a long, hot day of running errands, but with hungry cat twining themselves around my ankles and groceries melting on the counter, I nevertheless had to open the package and read the first paragraph…

Three pages later, I was c
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I admit it. The only reason I even picked this book up is because Dan Zak tweeted something once (I can't even recall what it was) that made me think, "Wow. That was a really good tweet. I wonder what this guy does for a living." As it turns out, he reports and writes for a living for my newspaper. And then I learned that there was a whole book of his reporting and writing on a subject about which I know very little, and I decided I needed to read it.

It's not just illuminating and thorough; it's
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book started out kind of slow for me and I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I don't like nuclear weapons but I mean, who would? Come to find out a lot of people like nuclear weapons and they spend a lot of time and money to protect those weapons from the American public.

Each chapter is broke down into three parts usually. There is the basic story line, then there is a brief biographical sketch of one the characters in the story, and then there is the policy planning going on in Washington
Christianne Hedtke
This was a phenomenal read, and incredibly illuminating. It reads like gripping fiction, but of course the terrifying part is that it's non-fiction. I've always been interested in the nuclear program, but this book had astounding information on the scope of America's program both in terms of the financial cost and the human cost. Anchored by interesting characters, Almighty is funny, poignant, informational, and beautifully written. It's a good reminder that nuclear weapons remain our number one ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, not 4. Dan Zak has long been one of my favorite journalists, so I looked forward to reading this. I won't say I was *excited* to read it because it deals with some very heavy and heady themes, but I knew that they would be in good hands with Zak's writing. And they were - it took me several months to finish this once I started it, but only because I wanted to read it carefully to fully absorb the horrors Zak describes. His writing is clear and very thoroughly explains, without dumbing ...more
Art Milholl
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pulitzer Prize quality. This book has the most accessible, wide-ranging, personal, and cultural depiction of nuclear weapons history and their grip on us of any I have seen, plus opposition to it (including the Humanitarian Initiative which led to the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons) including Command and Control. Dan Zak is an extraordinary journalist.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed how this book illuminated the struggle of peace activists, and especially learning about the struggle of Marshall Islands citizens to survive in this archipelago where some of our largest nuclear weapons were tested.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Some great writing here as Dan Zak goes from heartfelt coverage of anti-nuclear activists to dry history to tense treaty negotiations with a deft pen. I don't do much non-fiction, but this is among my favorites. Scary but hopeful at the same time. ...more
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A narrative nonfiction thriller, a humanitarian plea for action, and a primer on nuclear proliferation all bundled together in one engrossing, enlightening volume.
Isaac Rosen
Surprising. Much different than I expected in terms of the narrative. A touch disjointed toward the very end
Claire Hilliard
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. Very informative inside of great story telling.
Dylan Scott
Anti-nuclear activism is something that’s hard for most people to take seriously. Zak gives it the stakes and weight it deserves.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I’ve read about Oak Ridge and the long term effects of its role in the Manhattan Project. Loved it.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunningly researched, fast-paced look at American nuclear proliferation past and present told through a collection of narratives, one just as fascinating as the next.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
My former student, now a reporter for The Washington Post, wrote this!!!
Kevin Quixotic
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Please, for the love of our species, read Almighty.

Please wake up and remember the existential threat we created with nuclear weapons. These bombs roam the oceans on submarines and hide in mountainsides, perpetually ready to strike. These bombs do not discriminate, killing all who lie in their path, doctors, children and mothers. Please scream that trillions of dollars are thrown away to just maintain our American stockpile, forgetting Eisenhower’s warning: “Every dollar that is spent on armamen
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Everyone needs to read this book. Now.
It made me so angry, and also deeply embarrassed of my own superficial knowledge of the continued testing of nuclear weapons even after World War II.

The author did an amazing job of weaving together the personal stories of anti-nuclear activists, while at the same time describing the havoc that the US (and other nuclear powers) have wreaked on the environment, not to mention our government's role in exposing thousands of innocent American citizens to radiat
Jen Hamon
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is really a 3.5 for me... I enjoyed the first half a great deal but some parts of the second half felt bolted on. Waiting until the final chapter to introduce Rose Gottemoeller made it hard for me to care about her and the way the book wraps up.
Basically, the author runs out of steam when he runs out of history and arrives in the mundane world of current events whose significance he can only speculate about.

The core tale recounted in these pages of three pacifist senior citizens breach
Jerricka Habib
I was given a chance to read an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book was very informative regarding almost everything to do with nuclear warheads since World War II. While I agree that we need to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons and the book was fact based, I didn't like that nearly everyone portrayed in activism against nuclear power was religious. Change needs to be enacted at a policy level, not by crossing boundary lines and painting messages in blood. I see fanatics
Jun 02, 2016 rated it liked it
This book reviews the efforts of some groups/people that are trying to address the perils, foibles, instability, politics in this world of nuclear weapons. It does a real good job of educating the reader about this area/issue the world today, & also educates about the history of this use/ is rather scary to consider. It wasn't an overly 'exciting' book to read, but it was pretty easily readable, considering the subject matter....& I learned quite a bit...which earns it a highe ...more
Terence Johnson
This book with the epically long title was the first non-fiction book that I had read in a long time that felt like a fictional story, which is a credit to Dan Zak's inspired writing. Each new character introduction and shift between the past and the present made this book feel more the the peeling of an onion, which each layer revealing something new about what is one of the biggest issues of our time. I like that the book too the time to explain some of the fundamentals and origins of nuclear ...more
Gregory Howe
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a work of true enlightenment. This tome follows the exploits of the three Plowshares protesters as they miraculously defeated the perimeter security of "the Fort Knox of uranium". This very unsettling set of circumstances to me, pervades most of the book bringing into question the necessity of these weapons of mass destruction. Much more than just the biography of three folks, the story expands to include the lives of the townspeople of Oak Ridge, the security guards affected by the brea ...more
Elyssa Gooding
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was overwhelmed with the depth of information and drama in the story. Following the group of infiltrators in the facility felt like a modern day thriller. The history and context for their trespass is complex, yet straightforward. Because of government programs, military machines, and scientific breakthroughs that were perverted for war this group of people were inspired. The depth of the story and extensive history are fantastic. Zak's method of exposition ties the past to the present in a be ...more
Dave McNeely
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dan Zak, a journalist with the Washington Post, weaves a wonderful narrative exposition of the state of nuclear (dis)armament in the United States. Using the story of the Transform Now Plowshares action in 2012 as a touchpoint, Zak seamlessly blends personal narratives, Manhattan Project history, Oak Ridge sociology, nuclear nonproliferation geopolitics and much more to paint a prescient picture of one of the world's greatest threats today. Almighty is an informative and compelling introduction ...more
Alex Johnson
Having read quite a few books on the subject of nuclear proliferation and the history behind the bomb, I have to say this book disappointed me. the story of the elderly activists that were somehow able to break into the "Fort Knox of Uranium" was fascinating and terrifying, but on the whole I found this book quite dry. To be honest, I gave up halfway through so I can't speak to the end of the book. I immensely respect the issue and the investigative journalism that went into this book, but overa ...more
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Dan Zak is a reporter for The Washington Post. He has written a wide range of news stories, narratives and profiles while on local, national and foreign assignments. His reporting has taken him to the Academy Awards, to seven provinces in Iraq, to the East and West wings of the White House, to the Marshall Islands, to the United Nations, and to chairs opposite Robert Gates, John Kasich, Megyn Kell ...more

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