The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era
by Craig Nelson
Scribner, 2014

“Your family is radioactive; your friends are radioactive; your pets are radioactive; and the earth itself throws off a gaseous froth of radon,” writes journalist Nelson in this history of the atomic age. The book begins with the 1890s discovery of the first known radioactive elements and traces humankind's manipulation of radiation through to the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. Along the way, Nelson explains the science behind nuclear power, radiotherapy and the atomic bomb and brings to life the historical figures, such as Marie and Pierre Curie, Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer, who defined the era. Ultimately Nelson argues that the atomic age is in its twilight and that eventually both nuclear power and nuclear weapons will be nearly eradicated.