Full Body Burden Is A Haunting Work Of Narrative Nonfiction About A Young Woman, Kristen Iversen, Growing Up In A Small Colorado Town Close To Rocky Flats, A Secret Nuclear Weapons Plant Once Designated The Most Contaminated Site In America It S The Story Of A Childhood And Adolescence In The Shadow Of The Cold War, In A Landscape At Once Startlingly Beautiful And Unknown To Those Who Lived There Tainted With Invisible Yet Deadly Particles Of Plutonium It S Also A Book About The Destructive Power Of Secrets Both Family And Government Her Father S Hidden Liquor Bottles, The Strange Cancers In Children In The Neighborhood, The Truth About What Was Made At Rocky Flats Cleaning Supplies, Her Mother Guessed Best Not To Inquire Too Deeply Into Any Of It But As Iversen Grew Older, She Began To Ask Questions She Learned About The Infamous Mother S Day Fire, In Which A Few Scraps Of Plutonium Spontaneously Ignited And Despite The Desperate Efforts Of Firefighters Came Perilously Close To A Criticality, The Deadly Blue Flash That Signals A Nuclear Chain Reaction Intense Heat And Radiation Almost Melted The Roof, Which Nearly Resulted In An Explosion That Would Have Had Devastating Consequences For The Entire Denver Metro Area Yet The Only Mention Of The Fire Was On Page Of The Rocky Mountain News, Underneath A Photo Of The Pet Of The Week In Her Early Thirties, Iversen Even Worked At Rocky Flats For A Time, Typing Up Memos In Which Accidents Were Always Called Incidents And As This Memoir Unfolds, It Reveals Itself As A Brilliant Work Of Investigative Journalism A Detailed And Shocking Account Of The Government S Sustained Attempt To Conceal The Effects Of The Toxic And Radioactive Waste Released By Rocky Flats, And Of Local Residents Vain Attempts To Seek Justice In Court Here, Too, Are Vivid Portraits Of Former Rocky Flats Workers From The Healthy, Who Regard Their Work At The Plant With Pride And Patriotism, To The Ill Or Dying, Who Battle For Compensation For Cancers They Got On The Job Based On Extensive Interviews, FBI And EPA Documents, And Class Action Testimony, This Taut, Beautifully Written Book Promises To Have A Very Long Half Life After conducting meticulous and solid research, Kristen Iversen has compiled an outstanding, eloquent, haunting and shocking work that should be read by each and every one of us Iversen s powerful narrative interweaves the story of her family life with the story of the establishment and operation of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant near Denver, Colorado Kristen s family home bordered the property on which the Rocky Flats facility was built She exposes the secret of her father s alcoholism and its effect on her family, while also exposing the government s deliberate deception and betrayal of the general population regarding the processing of lethal material and the resulting catastrophic accidents at Rocky Flats It s a powerful and cautionary tale about life in the nuclear age Although production at Rocky Flats has ceased, the aftereffects of the operations conducted at the site will have devastating and lingering consequences for the residents of the Denver metropolitan area for generations to come I would highly recommend reading this book it s not an easy read It is heartbreaking But it is a warning about the willingness of the government to conceal from its citizens the truth about radioactive contamination in exchange for building and maintaining a nuclear arsenal Martin Luther King once stated, Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter In Full Body Burden, Kristen Iversen breaks the silence Bravo, Kristen, bravo. Bought this after hearing about it, because I love the West and the nuclear power stories set in it think Desert Bloom , and especially after reading this NYTBR review I should have remembered Dwight Garner is FUCKING USELESS when it comes to actually recommending books Book bloggers all suck, right Well, Garner didn t mention the prose style of this book is painfully cliched from the start yes, of course it is written in the first person present tense, it s apparently illegal to publish a memoir that isn t nowadays They need a roll up your sleeves, get down to business, high production bomb factory. WHERE was the editor A factory rolling up its sleeves .the news breaks like a thunderbolt over the community. Construction of the plant is rushed Not even the governor has an inkling. AN INKLING It should be a rule anyone for whom criteria is forever singular is likely to be a shitty writer And is it a law that journalists writing at book length have to employ a certain number of cliches, else they ll be left out in the cold in the breadlines The cliches Not the journalists Altho it might not be an idea to leave some journalists in the breadlines too But OH, IF WE HAD TO DEPEND ON THE INTERNET FOR NEWS, civilization would end Because the internet brought us Fox News and the CNN Headline channel Right, right I ll keep reading this, but, Jesus, Dwight, couldn t you have mentioned something about her shitty prose style His path to becoming an engineer has been hard won A hard won path Yes indeed It probably doesn t bother other people this much, but reading prose this flat for me is like nails down an inner aural chalkboard But, lest you think I m just a picky bitch , as Orwell famously pointed out, if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought The phrases that grate on me so are precisely the kind he s describing prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and and of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse I love him disapproving of the prefabricated henhouse To consider the example of hard won path above, it s clear she either thinks his position was hard won or he had a hard path, but she s not thinking about what she s writing, so it mushes together into this meaningless little glob most people rush over I have an eye for typos seriously, it s just a thing like some people have perfect pitch drives bosses nuts and other infelicities, so when I read that, it s like stubbing my toe, and I hop around and curse while other people wonder, What the fuck is wrong with her Why is she making such a fussPerhaps this kind of to be Orwellian slovenly, ugly, inaccurate writing doesn t do much harm in a blog post, or a newspaper editorial, or even a review in a Newspaper of Record if you forget the cursing reader who feels duped by the reviewer leaving out that the writer in question DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO GRAMMAR, but anyway But this is a popular yet serious book on a terribly modern topic the acceptance of horrifying pollutants as a side effect of producing even horrifying weapons, the sacrifice of ordinary i.e poor, usually non white citizens, the betrayal of trust in the idea that as they sleep and eat and drink water from faucets they are not being systematically poisoned, by the very government which has told them that weapon production is for their own safety and protection And, if found out, the government will then lie about the illnesses and deaths its citizens have suffered, often in cloudy, meaningless, hackneyed phrases Such a topic might even be deemed Orwellian. Surely it deserves clear, or at the very least accurate, language I clearly must start previewing first chapters on the Kindle before just buying something I probably would ve bought it anyway, because I m interested in the story I grew up in Santa Fe and the joke was if WWIII broke out, we d be radioactive toast because of LANL but I might not ve been so put off and disappointed OK, I m a picky bitch No denying that But listen Just think about what that typically means, won t you Does it mean precise and clear Anti Fascist No, it has come to be a synonym for totalitarian An Orwellian future, c c Not that all kinds of this shorthand are bad think Dickensian Christmas, or Dostoyevsian squalor But it seems particularly fittingno, not ironic, fuck youthat Orwell s name itself has become a kind of symbol for the sloppy thinking he was against Perhaps he is grimly amused, somewhere.ETA Finished it all, and the creepy head replacement on the 32 fouett s en tournant problem is intensified by her not actually being there for most of the big scenes she describes the early protests at Rocky Flats, the judgement in the class action lawsuit, the big fire her high school crush fights near the end To her credit, she s up front about being out of the state, and even the country, while this is all going on, but then the inevitable question arises if she s just basically stitching together evidence like a good reporter, why couldn t the book be written by a.better reporter Or a better writer. She does go to work at Rocky Flats, very briefly, which is apparently the catalyst which snaps her out of her life long denial and gives her the idea to write a book, but, in true twentieth century fashion, she doesn t realize what was actually going on while she was working there until she sees a Nightline report Perhaps this is just being true to her times our generation is the one that grew up seeing it all on the small screen just as the next generation is the one that grew up seeing it all on the ever smaller screens of their iThings but, in the hands of a skilled writer, this could have been used to creepy I alone am escaped to tell thee effect Here it s just baffling, and finally annoying Apparently she depended a lot on an earlier book, Making a Real Killing Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West, written by a former editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.now a professor of journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder But good ol Dwight Garner didn t mention that one. Having lived for than 40 years in Colorado, but thankfully, not in the shadows of Rocky Flats, I was both interested in and woefully uninformed about what went on at this facility for producing plutonium triggers Now that I ve read the book, I know that the woefully unaware part is not entirely my fault great effort was made to keep me and everyone else unaware and misinformed.Full Body Burden is both an expose of Rocky Flats and a memoir of someone growing up almost literally in its shadow The author grew up in a time when kids were sent outside to play in the morning and not expected to come home until dinner As a memoir, the book was warm and thoughtful, but I was appalled at the revolving door attitude towards pets that came and went As in so many memoirs now, alcoholism was involved, but this was not a poor little me type of story.As an expose of Rocky Flats, I was appalled by all that went on there, by the intentional secrecy and lies, by the disregard for safety and care All these years later, records are still sealed, whistle blowers have had their lives ruined And of course, people closest to the plant have paid the greatest price.And when RF was dismantled, I thought that clean up meant clean up Silly me I have always been bothered with nuclear facilities because of the problem of disposal of the waste, lethal substances with half lives sometimes in the millions of years, with the devil may care attitude that someone will figure out something later I learned that there are so many problems than just that.The negatives to the book are that the story was not always told in a linear manner, and the skipping around was sometimes hard to follow, and that there was too much repetition, particularly of scientific facts important to the story Still, I found it quite interesting and eye opening.I was given a copy of the book for review, for which I am grateful. Hmmm, so all the other reviews are singing this book s praises, but I thought it was lacking The book features two inter connecting stories a rather typical coming of age story and the terrible history of contamination by a facility making plutonium buttons for nuclear weapons The coming of age story is well written but something you ve read a hundred times before title character feels isolated, different her father is an alcoholic and her mother suffers from regret and depression The pieces about the toxic contamination is told like a series of facts without any narrative momentum it was like reading transcripts most of the time.
Full Body Burden Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, a finalist for the Barnes Noble Discover Award and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and
- 416 pages
- Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats
- Kristen Iversen
- 07 November 2017 Kristen Iversen