Under the Cloud: The Decades of Nuclear Testing

Richard L.Miller

Book Cover: Under The Cloud The Decades of Nuclear Testing

ISBN: 978-1881043-058

Under The Cloud is at

A shot-by-shot history of America's nuclear test program at the Nevada Test Site.

Kirkus Review: Under The Cloud is a chilling documentary history of America's above-ground nuclear tests conducted during the 1950's and early 1960's. The author takes on the subject and universalizes it, at the same time giving it the flavor of a Dos Passos novel. Like Bob Dylan's 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," a hard rain already has fallen, bringing with it nuclear debris across the continental United States. . .An appendix details the trajectory of radioactive clouds after each test. The author lists each town over which the clouds blew. Doubtless each reader will be able to locate their own hometown or one nearby in this lengthy list. Scary stuff."

Tampa Tribune and Times: "This book is a detailed account of every series of tests, unusual incidents of each, persons who were near to watch, and, most chilling, the clouds and their trajectories across the country and the world."

New York Times: "Perhaps the greatest virtue of Under The Cloud is that it makes nuclear weapons tests personal events, impossible to forget by those who participated in them and forgotten only with difficulty by those who come to understand that all of us have been unwilling and unwitting participants. In Mr. Miller's words, 'the invisible shadow of the nuclear weapon, created in the fury of the most intense explosion on earth and falling from the sky with the rain, has already touched each and every one of us."

Yakima Herald-Republic: "A chronological march along the nation's atomic trail with only brief stops for visits with a few of the thousands of American servicemen who participated in maneuvers close to ground zero right after nuclear tests. Other stops include the Eastman Kodak Co. labs in Rochester, NY where technicians found strange splotches on their film that were later linked to bomb blasts thousands of miles away; the movie set of 'The Conqueror' in radioactive sands of southwestern Utah. Years later the film's stars, John Wayne, Dick Powell, Agnes Moorehead and Susan Hayward, all would die of cancer.

Miller's narrative, while ponderous at times, is stripped of technical jargon and easy to understand. The book essentially is a documentary. And the scariest fact of all is that the final chapter has not yet been written."

Los Angeles Times News Service: " The main thing that distinguishes Under The Cloud from so many other similar works is the focus on the meanderings of the clouds of radioactive fallout. Miller reproduces maps of the fallout trajectories for many of teh tests, which portray the paths of the clouds across the country, as well as a 40-page appendix which lists the names of the towns over which the clouds passed.

Tampa Florida Tribune and Times: "This book is the a most detailed account of every series of tests, unusual incidents of each, persons who were near to watch, and most chilling, the clouds and their trajectories across the country and the world."

The Sciences: "Buster-Jangle, Upshot-Knothole. Plumbbob. Tumbler-Snapper. Between 1951 and 1963, more than one hundred above-ground nuclear tests with code names such as these rumbled over the Nevada Test Site, earning Yucca Flat the title Valley Where the Tall Mushrooms Grow. Nearby, residents became accustomed to dazzling white flashes in the sky before dawn, and windows rattled as far away as Los Angeles. Radioactive dust, blasted into the stratosphere, was carried thousands of miles by prevailing winds before settling to Earth silently, in drops of rain or flakes of snow.

Yet the public's attitude toward the tests, well documented by Richard Miller, was long one of blissful ignorance. Most Americans bought the official line that the fallout was limited to areas near Yucca Flat and was, in any event harmless. A 1955 article in U.S. News & World Report assured readers that radiation-contaminated fish could be eaten safely 'if skinned with reasonable care.'"

A complete list of our technical books on nuclear fallout is found here.