In A Nuclear Family Vacation, husband-and-wife journalists Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger hit the road to explore the secretive world of nuclear weaponry. Weaving together first-class travel writing and crack investigative journalism, the pair pursues both adventures and answers: Why are nuclear weapons still on hair-trigger alert? Is there really such a thing as a suitcase nuke? And which nuclear power plants are most likely to be covers for weapons programs? Their itinerary takes them from the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan to the U.S.'s own top-secret "Site R", opening a unique perspective on the world's vast nuclear infrastructure and the international politics at play behind it.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Possibly, depending on the friend.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Laural Merlington?
Anyone. A man would be fine.
Did A Nuclear Family Vacation inspire you to do anything?
Read more about our nuclear history.
Any additional comments?
It's a neat, behind the scene perspective on a hidden topic. The interviews and site descriptions make the book. As a politically charged topic, the author stays fairly neutral. This is enough to make the book readable, but there is something about the overall story that I found incredibly annoying. Perhaps some of this was that the selected narrator who sounded like June Cleaver discussing technical aspects of nuclear holocaust, perhaps it was the superficial knowledge of the author of the topic, which had little depth beyond the interviews, or perhaps it was just frustrating that a lot of the stories just never went deep enough (due in part to national security)....whatever it was, I made it though the book, but I was constantly on the verge of turning it off.
The topic for this book hits my sweet spot so it was an easy choice to buy and generally it lived up to my expectations. It shone some light into some of the dark and often neglected corners of the world of atomic weaponry, I especially enjoyed the segment about Kwajalein and although the technical detail was a little on the light side that is understandable given the subject matter. You have to admire the authors determination to get access to some of the places they visited, it often sounds quite easy but I guess they could have written a separate book about the hoops they must have jumped through. Some of the characters they met along the way were as interesting as the places they visited.
On the subject of the reader, I have to say she started off sounding slightly odd, stilted intonation, odd pronunciation, Cuba pronounced "Koobah", the oddest interpretation of the name "Forrestall" I've ever heard and pronouncing IAEA (I'd say Iyayeeay) as I. A. E. A. with really plonking full stops. By the end it was REALLY annoying and puts me off listening to the book again which is a shame.
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