Half-Lives & Half-Truths: Confronting the Radioactive Legacies of the Cold War

Dublin Core


This anthology reveals the still-unfolding legacies of the nuclear age. Focusing on on a range of locations including Marshall Islands, Hanford, US Southwest, Alaska, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Hiroshima, fifteen contributing anthropologists shed light on man-made destructions that slowly but surely took away not only the health and livelihood of residents, but also their essential right to know. Framed as a national priority, nuclear tests became “field trials,” people “civilian and military subjects.” These subjects are often racial or ethnic minorities, whose marginalized status made it easy for authorities to keep the subjects uninformed about radiation risk. Even the compensations, which are meant to assist irradiated individuals, has been curtailed by the lack of information and accessibility. The book’s emphasis on the long-term effect of radiation, which has been difficult to study statistically or medically, makes it a particularly worthy critique of Cold War nuclear policy and production.


Santa Fe, NM: A School of Advanced Research Resident Scholar Book, 2007.








Johnston, Barbara Rose ed., “Half-Lives & Half-Truths: Confronting the Radioactive Legacies of the Cold War,” Legacies of the Enlightenment, accessed October 1, 2023, http://enlightenmentlegacies.org/items/show/40.