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This review is taken from PN Review 59, Volume 14 Number 3, January - February 1988.

TRAVELS IN NUCLEAR REALITY Martin Amis, Einstein's Monsters (Cape) £5.95
Gina Berriault, The Descent (North Point, San Francisco) $7.95
Dexter Masters, The Accident (Faber) £4.95
A.G. Mojtabai, Blessèd Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo, Texas (Secker & Warburg) £10.95
Tim O'Brien, The Nuclear Age (Collins) £10.95, (Flamingo) £3.95

Faber have reissued The Accident, about a radiation accident which killed a young scientist at Los Alamos in 1946. It is very good reportage-fiction, liberal, knowledgeable, crafting every scene and character with documentary precision; it wears its thirty-two years well. You can take it as a sort of companion to Robert Jungk's famous account of the Manhattan Project, Brighter than a Thousand Suns. Nazism is smashed, the war is over, the community of atomic scientists has dispersed. Yet military research and secrecy continue at Los Alamos, although the researchers no longer know what their efforts are for. 'Who are we arming?' asks one of the most clear-sighted; 'Ourselves of course - but equally of course all possible enemies.' Masters' book constructs an historical moment absolutely, with all its glimmering hope, foreboding, and disastrous innocence. In The Mystery of Majorana, Leonardo Sciascia has a long, provocative footnote about the A-bomb enterprise:


The Manhattan Project's organisational structure and the site on which it was actualized are outlined for us invisions of segregation and slavery, in an equivalent to Hitler's death-camps. Those who manipulate death - even the death of others - as it was manipulated at Los Alamos, are on death's side and belong to death.


Masters refuses the judgements of hindsight, but some such epitaph looms over his New Mexican scene.

The other reprint in this batch is Gina Berriault's The Descent (1960), which tells of a modest academic who ...


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