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Atomic Awakening: A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power

Atomic Awakening: A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power - James A. Mahaffey The subtitle of this book, "A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power", is not exactly accurate. The book was not what I expected it to be. So let me catalog what the book was.

1) First 100 pages or so take us through the history of knowledge about the atom, and he finally gets to the discovery of the neutron in 1933. While fairly accurate and amusing, with little witty comments thrown in, I still don't know why this section is in this book.

2) Next 100 pages or so are spent on the Manhattan Project and the building of nuclear bombs in general. The author has impressive technical know-how and he wants to clear up myths about which parts of the bomb delivery system moved. But don't look for personal stories here -- it's purely technical. If that's what you want, great. It's still not about nuclear power, though.

3) Finally we get to nuclear power. The next 100 pages or so are about various technological developments, from reactor technology to its applications: naval subs, army outposts, designs of nuclear rockets and planes that never came to fruition. Interesting stuff. Still not about the nuclear power industry.

4) Last 30 pages. Finally the author has something to say about the nuclear industry, and it reads like an epitaph. He expresses some hope for the future, with some chagrine for how safe the industry has become (not much evidence here, though). Some optimism for the future with things picking up in 2007-2008.

So... this book is an interesting history of nuclear science and technology, but not about the generation of nuclear power per se. It's pretty well written, so if you just want to read something interesting and technical about nuclear stuff, this is a great place to start. It just wasn't all that informative for me.