Half-Life of a Secret
Reckoning with a Hidden History
It wasn't until three years later that the citizens of Oak Ridge, and the rest of the world, learned the true purpose of the local industry. Oak Ridge was one of three secret cities constructed by the Manhattan Project for the express purpose of developing the first atomic bomb, which devastated Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
In Half-Life of a Secret: Reckoning with a Hidden History, Emily Strasser exposes the toxic legacy—political, environmental, and personal—that forever polluted her family, a community, the nation, and the world. Sifting through archives and family memories, and traveling to the deserts of Nevada and the living rooms of Hiroshima, she grapples with the far-reaching ramifications of her grandfather's work. She learns that during the three decades he spent building nuclear weapons, George suffered from increasingly debilitating mental illness. Returning to Oak Ridge, Strasser confronts the widespread contamination resulting from nuclear weapons production and the government's disregard for its impact on the environment and public health. With brilliant insight, she reveals the intersections between the culture of secrecy in her family and the institutionalized secrecy within the nuclear industry, which persists, with grave consequences, to this day.
About the Author
"With a detective's focus, a philosopher's yearning, and a granddaughter's devotion, Strasser deftly fuses memoir with biography, lyricism with hard truths, and a hidden history with the forgetful present. This book is intimate and epic, harrowing and healing. It chases the phantoms of America, reveals the contamination of secrecy, and finds grace in a fraught inheritance: hers and the nation's."—Dan Zak
Other Titles in HISTORY / Military / Nuclear Warfare