On August 6, 1945, the United States detonated a nuclear bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. This marked the beginning of an arms race with Russia that quickly led to the creation of a large nuclear testing ground in the American heartland. Ever since then, we have been living in a nuclear world.
On today’s show, Patty interviews historian Kate Brown about the tandem history of two nuclear testing sites—in the “plutonium cities” of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia—during the Cold War. Over the course of the hour, they discuss radioactive waste, closed cities and the secrecy of testing sites, the connection between nuclear plants and nuclear families, the role of women laborers in nuclear development projects, the far-reaching public health effects of radiation, anti-nuclear movements, and much more.
Kate Brown is a professor of history at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is the author of Plutopia: Nuclear Families in Atomic Cities and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford, 2013) and is currently finishing a book on the environmental and medical consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, to be published by Norton in 2019.