Summary and Info
Amazon.com Review **Amazon Best of the Month, April 2009:** In 1966, a mid-air collision off the coast of Spain between a fueling tanker and a B2 bomber resulted in a loss of life, strained international relations, and a PR nightmare for the US government. Not only had the crash put innocent civilians at risk from raining debris, but it also produced a much larger problem once the dust had cleared: four hydrogen bombs were now unaccounted for. *The Day We Lost the H-Bomb* explores an awakening to the realities of a nuclear age. Despite a handful of plutonium-grade foul-ups on our own soil, Americans were seemingly at ease with a burgeoning arsenal of nuclear weaponry. Cold War anxiety over the ever-reaching arm of Communism fueled massive increases in U.S. military spending, yet not enough attention was given to the dangers of an arms race until this fatal accident abroad. --*Dave Callanan* * * * **Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Barbara Moran** **The Swim** Two years ago, on a chilly February morning, I found myself standing on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. I was wearing a bathing suit, shivering in the cold and feeling like a complete idiot. It was all Ellen’s fault. A few weeks earlier, before leaving for Spain to research *The Day We Lost the H-Bomb*, I had had lunch with Ellen Ruppel Shell, a former writing teacher. As we chatted about my upcoming trip, I told her the story of Angier Biddle Duke, the American Ambassador to Spain in 1966. After the United States accidentally dropped four hydrogen bombs near a Spanish village, Duke orchestrated a PR stunt, swimming in the chilly Med to prove that the water wasn’t radioactive. I mentioned that I was planning to visit the beach where Angie swam. Ellen looked at me and said, “Well, of course you have to swim there, too.” I had to admit she was right. It’s always easier to write about something you’ve experienced firsthand. Now, here I was on the beach. I had been anxious about the swim, searching for any excuse to get out of it. My translator had mentioned something about a jellyfish invasion of the Mediterranean, which gave me hope. But I had scoped out the beach the previous day and there wasn’t a jellyfish in sight. No people in sight, either. In my few days on the coast I had seen no one in the water and hardly anyone on the beach, just a few pasty Brits and backpackers sprawled on the sand. It was, after all, February. The next morning I got up at dawn. My plan was to sneak down to the beach without anyone seeing me. The Spanish were used to gringos acting strangely, but a dip in the Med in the middle of winter was surely a bit too far. The beach was deserted, but I noted with alarm that a tour bus was parked beside the road overlooking the ocean. Unlike Angie Duke, my goal was to attract as little attention as possible. I took off my shirt and shorts, and stood on the beach on my bathing suit, cursing Ellen for putting this idea in my head. Where were those jellyfish when I needed them? I wondered if the tour bus was filling with old folks who now had something interesting to look at. I took my first step in. The water was clear and cold, the bottom soft and pebbled. I took a few more steps, my feet sinking into the sand. There was a steep drop and I was suddenly up to my waist. A quick count of one, two, three and I ducked underwater. I came back up, shook my hair and tasted the salty water on my face. My job was done. My 30-second dip in the Med, after all my anxiety, was anticlimactic. Angie’s swim was completely the opposite. --*Barbara Moran* (Photo © John G. Nikolai) About the Author Barbara Moran is an award-winning science journalist who has written for many publications, including New Scientist, Invention & Technology, Technology Review and the Boston Globe. Her television documentary credits include the PBS series Frontline, The American Experience and NOVA, as well as the History and Discovery Channels. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Boston University’s graduate program in science and medical reporting, she received a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT in 2001. She lives in Boston with her husband and son.
More About the Author
Barbara Radding Morgan (born November 28, 1951) is an American teacher and a former NASA astronaut. She participated in the Teacher in Space program as backup to Christa McAuliffe for the 1986 ill-fated STS-51-L mission of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
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