Amazon.com review of Bombast: Spinning Atoms in the Desert

Amazon.com review of Bombast: Spinning Atoms in the Desert  – By Judy Winzeler 

This review is from: Bombast: Spinning Atoms in the Desert (paperback).  Mackedon is one of a growing number of Nevada poets, novelists, artists and scholars who are recording the nuclear history of the state and nation. Her approach is far-ranging and her book particularly accessible. It is filled with scholarship but is a popular rather than an academic book. An added advantage for busy people is that this book can easily be browsed; each chapter or section can stand alone, and many pages are illustrated with quotes, drawings or sidebars with interesting information. The 23 page full-color chapter on Atomic Pop draws on the extensive collection of artist Peter Goin who was also involved in the artistic design of the book. In short, this is a unique book that draws on Mackedon extensive research of government documents, her service as Vice-chair of the Nevada Nuclear Commission, her rhetorical skills as a Professor of English, and her personal perspectives as a Nevada native.

Author examines how Nevada became Ground Zero of nuclear testing

Review written by: Susan Skorupa – Reno Gazette-Journal

Events in the 1950s and the 1980s concerning the nation’s nuclear future produced redundant journeys.

Both searches led seekers to Nevada (Nye County, specifically) first to what became the Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas as a place to detonate nuclear weapons — from 1950 through 1992, more than 1,000 nuclear detonations were conducted above and under Nevada — and in 1987, to Yucca Mountain as a location on the test site to bury nuclear waste.

The journeys and their outcomes also created similar chains of rhetoric, press coverage, publicity and other responses that more than 60 years after the start of the nuclear age in Nevada has left the nation and the world with a stereotypical view of Nevadans and their world. That impression has propagated the notion of Nevada as wasteland and its people stereotypically as outsiders and loners, outlaws, gamblers and desert rats, oblivious to or uncaring about nuclear bombs and waste.

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Radiation: A Literary Analysis – Review by Matthew Wald

The New York Times – Green – A Blog About Energy and the Environment

Nevada is home to the largest nuclear bomb test site, and the proposed host for a nuclear waste repository. The scientists and engineers, the corporate executives, the lawyers and the elected officials have all had years to chew over how and why Nevada was selected, but now comes a new analysis, from an English major.

“Bombast: Spinning Atoms in the Desert,” published late last year by a nonprofit group in Reno, the Black Rock Institute, is a trip through what the author, Michon Mackedon, calls “nuclear colonialism.” Ms. Mackedon, of Fallon, in northern Nevada, is a former co-chairman of the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects, a state agency appointed to fight off the waste dump. She is also a professor emeritus of English at Western Nevada College.

Outsiders with a global or national agenda – like preparing for nuclear war with the Soviet Union or finding a disposal site for the civilian and military wastes piling up around the country – began by devaluing their chosen site, whether atolls in the South Pacific or the deserts of New Mexico or southern Nevada, she asserts in the book.

And Nevada, she said, is barren and quirky; in the popular mind, why not throw the mushroom clouds and the million-year waste repository in with the state’s “casino culture,” she asked.

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Review by David Stentiford of Bombast: Spinning Atoms in the Desert

Precipitate – Journal of the New Environmental Imagination

David Stentiford teaches developmental writing at the University of Nevada, Reno.

To spin the atom in the Nevada desert, explains Michon Mackedon—to get people on board with nuclear testing and repository sites—is much more than a scientific endeavor: it’s an art that requires data, predictions, and places to be stitched together with just the right influential language.  Part commentary, part rhetorical analysis, “Bombast: Spinning Atoms in the Desert” tells the story of nuclear events related to the Nevada Test Site and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).  The book also explores terrain beyond the NTS to analyze language, cultural artifacts, and other nuclear events that contextualize Nevada’s role as the nation’s principal atomic weapons testing site and, at one point, the potential repository for the country’s high-level radioactive waste.  Mackedon, who for twenty years served as a member and vice chairman for the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects, tells us how the Nevada Test Site (NTS) and Yucca Mountain were promoted through clever “imagery, euphemism, and promotional rhetoric” that emphasized the naturalness of radiation, touted the clean safety records of tests, characterized the desert as a wasteland, and leveraged the language of “sound science” to achieve questionable ends. This “sound science,” the book argues, masked political interests, and aesthetic and sociological assumptions about Nevada.

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