WNC NEWS & NOTES: Former professor’s book seeks to stimulate conversation

From the Nevada Appeal, Sunday, October 10, 2010:  According to Western Nevada College Emeritus English Professor Michon Mackedon,“If you place on a map of Nevada ‘X’s to mark areas used for nuclear testing and ‘O’s to mark areas examined as potential nuclear sites, you end up with a tic-tac-toe game board in the shape of the Silver State.”

Mackedon, a longtime Fallon resident, has just finished her first book, “Bombast: Spinning Atoms in the Desert,” which she said will serve as a “sort of guide” to Nevada’s nuclear past. Her well-researched work considers the issues of the above ground and underground nuclear weapon explosions that took place in Nevada between 1951 and 1993. She also explores the dilemmas caused by characterizations of the Silver State as a “wasteland,” guarantees of “sound science” to justify testing, and an ongoing effort to designate Nevada as the nation’s nuclear waste repository.

“In 1986, I was appointed by Gov. Richard Bryan to serve on the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects,” Mackedon said. “I served for over 20 years, deeply interested in the deployment (by the government and nuclear industry) of euphemisms designed to convince the public that nuclear projects were safe and suitable in Nevada. My investigation of nuclear ‘spin’ in the deserts of my homeland led to the creation of ‘Bombast.’”

The book received a highly favorable review by author and New York Times editorial writer Dennis Smith, who said he “loved this lavish work of history, not only for its important story, but also as it reassures that the art of refined journalism is still with us.” He noted, “If you care about nuclear warfare and its ever present and growing confrontations, or if you are moved by exceptional writing, then you will love this book.”

At an upcoming event that is funded by Nevada Humanities, Mackedon will offer lectures at WNC Douglas campus at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17 and at WNC Carson City campus at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18. Admission is free.

Mackedon said she hopes to stimulate conversation and civic engagement around one of two themes that will be chosen by the hosts of each event: the dilemma faced by the United States if plans to build the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear repository are permanently discontinued; or an examination of Nevada’s nuclear legacy — a mixture of lost innocence and discovery of our own invisibility — in literature and other cultural manifestations.

According to the author, the book is currently available at Sundance Bookstore in Reno, at the Churchill County Museum in Fallon, and online from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

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