Longing for the Bomb: Oak Ridge and Atomic Nostalgia

Longing for the Bomb: Oak Ridge and Atomic Nostalgia

by Lindsey A. Freeman

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Overview

Longing for the Bomb traces the unusual story of the first atomic city and the emergence of American nuclear culture. Tucked into the folds of Appalachia and kept off all commercial maps, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was created for the Manhattan Project by the U.S. government in the 1940s. Its workers labored at a breakneck pace, most aware only that their jobs were helping "the war effort." The city has experienced the entire lifespan of the Atomic Age, from the fevered wartime enrichment of the uranium that fueled Little Boy, through a brief period of atomic utopianism after World War II when it began to brand itself as "The Atomic City," to the anxieties of the Cold War, to the contradictory contemporary period of nuclear unease and atomic nostalgia. Oak Ridge's story deepens our understanding of the complex relationship between America and its bombs.

Blending historiography and ethnography, Lindsey Freeman shows how a once-secret city is visibly caught in an uncertain present, no longer what it was historically yet still clinging to the hope of a nuclear future. It is a place where history, memory, and myth compete and conspire to tell the story of America's atomic past and to explain the nuclear present.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469622378
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 04/13/2015
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Lindsey A. Freeman is assistant professor of sociology at Simon Fraser University.

What People are Saying About This

Karen Engle University of Windsor

This engaging, creative, and well-researched investigation of the strange emergence of Oak Ridge represents the best of sociocultural history. Retaining a deep commitment to both fact and myth, Freeman shows how rendering the truth of a place requires far more than data, but rather demands a careful analysis of both stories and systems.

Peter C. van Wyck Concordia University

Through a pointed, careful and movingly poetic story of the atomic city, Oak Ridge, Tennessee--one of the three principal sites of the Manhattan Project--Longing for the Bomb charts one locale in the historical itinerary of the American atomic imaginary. Archival and personal, theoretically astute, Freeman's book brings into view a history from below--from atomic utopianism to atomic nostalgia--where the dawn of the atomic age was materialized in a landscape and a community, and its contemporary ruins provoke a crisis of remembrance. This is a remarkable contribution to nuclear scholarship.

Bruce Hevly University of Washington

Placing an emphasis on elements of memory and their construction and preservation, Longing for the Bomb makes clear how a new understanding of the history of Oak Ridge can provide insights to be extended to American nuclear history more generally, and to our ongoing flirtations with nuclear technology.

From the Publisher

Through a pointed, careful and movingly poetic story of the atomic city, Oak Ridge, Tennessee—one of the three principal sites of the Manhattan Project—Longing for the Bomb charts one locale in the historical itinerary of the American atomic imaginary. Archival and personal, theoretically astute, Freeman's book brings into view a history from below—from atomic utopianism to atomic nostalgia—where the dawn of the atomic age was materialized in a landscape and a community, and its contemporary ruins provoke a crisis of remembrance. This is a remarkable contribution to nuclear scholarship.—Peter C. van Wyck, Concordia University

Hugh Gusterson The George Washington University

The story of the creation of Oak Ridge, told here with a light, elegant touch, is fascinating, and Lindsey Freeman has a masterful command of archival sources, no matter how obscure. Longing for the Bomb will position her as a leading authority on the history of Oak Ridge, just as the work makes a vivid contribution to American social history more generally.

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