Why this book?
This book explores the history of two communities that during the Cold War devoted themselves to the production of nuclear weapons: Richland, Washington and Ozersk in Russia’s southern Urals. She calls this a “tandem history” because even though the towns existed in very different countries, the U.S. and the USSR, seeing them side-by-side reveals how much they had in common as a result of nuclear secrecy, accidents, and the privileges that came with working inside the jewel in the crown of a military-industrial complex. Brown is a skilled author and she inserts herself into her stories with travelogue segments that in the hands of a lesser writer might seem self-indulgent but in hers add texture to the historical fabric.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
While many transnational histories of the nuclear arms race have been written, Kate Brown provides the first definitive account of the great plutonium disasters of the United States and the Soviet Union.
In Plutopia, Brown draws on official records and dozens of interviews to tell the extraordinary stories of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia-the first two cities in the world to produce plutonium. To contain secrets, American and Soviet leaders created plutopias--communities of nuclear families living in highly-subsidized, limited-access atomic cities. Fully employed and medically monitored, the residents of Richland and Ozersk enjoyed all the pleasures of consumer society, while…