Publisher description for The atomic times : my H-bomb year at the Pacific Proving Ground : a memoir / Michael Harris.


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A real-life version of Catch-22–the searing and subversively funny memoir of a young army draftee’s experiences during the H-Bomb tests of the 1950s

In late 1955, twenty-two-year-old army private Michael Harris “earned” an assignment to Eniwetok Atoll, ground zero of U.S. Joint Task Force Seven’s Pacific Proving Ground. There, on a desolate stretch of the South Pacific, Harris was part of a grand experiment called Operation Redwing. The biggest and baddest of America’s atmospheric nuclear weapons test regimes, Redwing was one of those strange Cold War phenomena that mixed saber rattling with mad science–while overlooking the cataclysmic human, geopolitical, and ecological effects. But mostly, it just messed with guys’ heads. . . .
Meet the members of Harris’s new nuclear family:

ˇMajor Maxwell, who put safety first, second and third–except when he didn't
ˇBerko, the wisecracking Brooklyn Dodgers fan who was forced to cope with the H-bomb and his mother’s cookies
ˇTony, who thought military spit and polish plus uncompromising willpower made him an exception
ˇCarl Duncan, who clung to his girlfriend's photos and a dangerous secret
ˇMajor Vanish who did just that

With The Atomic Times, Harris welcomes readers into the company of the brave men of Operation Redwing, where the local lexicon of f-words included such gems as “fallout” and “fireball.” As Harris tells it, daily life at ground zero could have been scripted by a committee comprising Franz Kafka, Sergeant Bilko, Hubert Selby, and Joseph Heller–all working within the constraints of the peacetime army’s unofficial modus operandi, “Hurry up and wait.”

When not playing radioactive guinea pig, Harris’s jobs included editing the base’s daily newspaper, cheekily named The Atomic Times, whose logo was a mushroom cloud and whose motto was “All the News That Fits, We Print.” In a distinctive narrative voice, Harris describes his h-bomb year with unforgettable imagery and insight into how isolation and isotopes change men for better and for worse.


Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Harris, Michael -- (Michael David), -- 1933-
United States. -- Army -- Military police -- Biography.
Nuclear weapons -- Testing.
Enewetak Atoll (Marshall Islands) -- History, Military.
Eniwetok Proving Grounds (Marshall Islands)