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CREES Lecture Series - "The Great American Experiment: Nuclear Testing in the American Heartland" - Kate Brown
When reactor no. 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded in 1986, American nuclear officials grew nearly as worried as Soviet leaders. No one thought that dangerous levels of Chernobyl fallout reached North America, so why were bureaucrats of the US Department of Energy and Department of Justice so concerned? Chernobyl occurred during a critical time in US history when the extinguishing of the Cold War led to the de-classification of nuclear secrets. Among those secrets was evidence that US officials and army generals had turned to the American heartland to carry out experiments in the relationship between human health and chronic low doses of manmade radiation. The search to discover the medical effects of the Chernobyl accident became the bell-weather for Cold War trials a continent away.

Kate Brown is the Thomas M. Siebel Distinguished Professor in the History of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of several prize-winning histories, including Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford 2013). Her latest book, Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (Norton 2019), translated into nine languages, won the Marshall Shulman and Reginald Zelnik Prizes for the best book in East European History, plus the Silver Medal for Laura Shannon Book Prize. Manual for Survival was also a finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pushkin House Award and the Ryszard Kapuściński Award for Literary Reportage.

Oct 14, 2021 04:00 PM in Central Time (US and Canada)

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