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100 Suns

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  255 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Between July 1945 and November 1962 the United States is known to have conducted 216 atmospheric and underwater nuclear tests. After the Limited Test Ban Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1963, nuclear testing went underground. It became literally invisible—but more frequent: the United States conducted a further 723 underground tests, the last in 19 ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 21st 2003 by Knopf (first published October 9th 2003)
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Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great read for anyone who wishes to know the power and terrible beauty that is the history of US atmospheric and underwater nuclear testing.

The set of 100 photographs are equally seperated into two groups: desert (Nevada) and ocean (the Pacific). The photos are labelled accroding to the codename designated by the US military. The names themselves do not have any relation to the nuclear wepon involved for that particular testing. Some of the names are chosen in a seemingly random f
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Clayton Crockett, Aaron Simmons, Gabe Gentry
This book is DISTURBING! And, I like it very much -- in fact it might be why I like it so much. The endnotes at the back of the book are the real payoff. The images are just presented with the bomb test code name, kiloton estimated yield, location, & date.

You have to get through the book to get to the supporting info. Very effective. These are beautiful images BUT they are terrible at the same time.

Nice primer on the basics of thermonuclear particle physics & radiation physical effects f
Randolph Carter
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Art lovers and fans of apocalyptic writing
Shelves: history, non-fiction, art
I love nuclear weapons. I'm fascinated by them. They can wipe out everything and leave a lingering poison that cleans up the rest. Except for the cockroaches, maybe. The capability to actually pull off apocalypto is what makes nuclear weapons so cool, better than any fictional apocalypse could possibly be. And its totally real. The instantaneous capability makes it much scarier than biological or nerve gas weapons. These latter are more likely to take more time and leave too many survivors, anim ...more
Greg Broadmore
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Peter Tillman
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Review cribbed from "The Alien Online" (not by me):

The title refers to Robert Oppenheimer’s words after watching the first atomic weapons test in 1945. One of the fathers of the atom bomb, he said: ‘If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky, that would be like the splendour of the Mighty One…I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ Michael Light has taken him at his word; his book contains 100 pictures of – you guessed it – ‘suns’, the US military’s open-air n
Eugene Mah
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photography
As terrible as a nuclear detonation can be, this book manages to capture the spectacle and beauty from the above-ground nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site and other detonation sites in the 50s and 60s.

The book is a collection of 100 colour and B&W photos from the US National Archives and LANL of various detonations. Some are taken mere milliseconds after detonation and show fascinating detail. Others show the detonations with soldiers looking on. Aerial shots show the impressiv
King Ævil
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, nuclear-weapons
A collection of stunning photographs from the United States nuclear testing program, unretouched and unembellished. Includes an index with information on the test series, date and estimated yield of each detonation. The 100 photos are divided equally between the Nevada Test Site and the Pacific Ocean tests, and many feature the US soldiers who witnessed the explosions, some from dangerous proximity.

These photographs provide beautiful, yet chilling testimony to the awesome destructive power of nu
Aug 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I saw the pictures in this book as an exhibit at my local art museum over a year ago. The images and the descriptions are so haunting I had to return to them. These photos were like the sore that would heal because I couldn't stop picking it. Mushroom clouds causing lightning storms and flipping over ships or the images of soldiers watching tests with expressions that run from wonder to horror are coupled with descriptions that tell you things like the light of the explosions were so bright that ...more
Gary Misch
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a very unusual book, even by picture book standards. It consists of 100 photographs of nuclear bursts. Some have the appearance of artwork, so it's good to keep in mind what you're looking it. A few show people in the foreground. In the early days of nuclear testing, the military made soldiers witness these events. The after effects must have been pretty nasty, even with protective clothing. I would call many of the photo spectacular. Hopefully, the last photographs of nuclear bursts hav ...more
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: photography, history
Unexpected layout and it made no sense. Page after page of photos with the basics. Only at the end can you read about each test/photo, and only after that do you get to the timeline that makes sense of all of it. The timeline was the best part of the book and it was crammed into a few pages. Interspersing photos with details and chronology would have made a fascinating read.
Ray Dunsmore
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
The bizarre and threatening beauty of total devastation. The fact that some of these official army photographs make for beautiful art owes totally to the awe that only such a weapon of pure and complete death as thermonuclear bombs can provide. Worth a look, if only for the picture of the bomb that gave John Wayne and the rest of the cast & crew of The Conqueror terminal cancer.
Alan McClain
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing collection of declassified photographs of nuclear tests from the 1950's into the 1960's. Detailed information on the outcome of each test. A most unique compilation of awesomely powerful detonations, with some even having an eerie beauty in the colors of their images.
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A photo book of many atomic bomb tests. It's completely entrancing and disturbing and frightening. What we could have (and may yet) do to our pale blue dot of a home was an immediate version of the slow-motion ruination that climate change portends.
Jesse Weckroth
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
Beautiful amazing book!
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Terrifying and beautiful.
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, environment
100 photos of nuclear detonations. These pictures are absolutely devastating. And I think that makes them all the more beautiful.
Tammy Flanders
My blog Apples with Many Seeds includes a review of 100 Suns:
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
A collection of images showcasing the "mushroom-like" cloud left after a bomb is dropped. The destruction it brings leaves an almost calm eerie paradox.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved this!
Nick Wallace
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you enjoy nuclear weapons (and who doesn't), every photograph in this book is hypnotizing.
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, photography, 2012
I wish I'd known about the detailed captions in the back of the book BEFORE.
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant photos and surprisingly beautiful! No description of the science or anything, just the photos - very powerful!
Stuart Ridgway
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Compelling viewing.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A pictorial history of US nuclear testing in the 1950s and 60s. Stunning and horrific at the same time, a really beautiful book.
Elliptic Blue
rated it it was amazing
Oct 07, 2010
rated it it was ok
Feb 25, 2013
rated it it was ok
Jun 18, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Feb 04, 2009
Saheed Tunde
rated it it was amazing
Nov 17, 2015
Nick Black
rated it really liked it
Dec 11, 2007
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Michael Light is a San Francisco-based photographer and bookmaker focused on the environment and how contemporary American culture relates to it. His work is concerned both with the politics of that relationship and the seductions of landscape representation. He has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally, and his work has been collected by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The ...more
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