Book Review: A Nuclear Family Vacation

Authors Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger provide a guided tour to atomic weaponry tourism, from nuclear labs to blast-proof bunkers (including Dick Cheney’s rumored “undisclosed location”).

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


In A Nuclear Family Vacation, a husband-and-wife duo of Washington, DC-based defense reporters takes a journey deep into the nation’s nuclear weapons complex. But wait—this turns out to be a surprisingly fun road trip, even though it’s led by a pair of Beltway policy wonks. Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger join the small but growing number of nuclear tourists who, like the families that swarm Gettysburg and Antietam each summer, visit Cold War nuclear sites and get nostalgic about mutually assured destruction. The nukes complex is happy to play along: The National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque hosts children’s birthday parties; the “Hall of Success” at Tennessee’s Y-12 uranium-enrichment facility exhibits some of the plant’s lesser-known spin-offs, such as an ultrathin aluminum beer can (now that’s a peace dividend!); and Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain command center displays framed photographs of prior visitors, including Clifford the Big Red Dog.

As they drop in on nuclear labs, production plants, icbm silos, and blast-proof bunkers (including Pennsylvania’s “Site R,” rumored to be Dick Cheney’s “undisclosed location”), Hodge and Weinberger also get a good look at our fast-deteriorating nuclear stockpile. Beneath the tourist kitsch, they find a system in panic, uncertain of its reason to exist in the post-Berlin Wall world. In the end, Hodge and Weinberger conclude, “much of the infrastructure supporting nuclear weapons continues to exist merely because no one has come up with a compelling reason to shut it down.” In the meantime, it’s fast becoming a bizarre roadside attraction for those in search of apocalyptic fun.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate