Nuclear Bodies: The Global Hibakusha

By Robert Jacobs (Yale University Press, 2022)

In the fall of 1961, President Kennedy somberly warned Americans about deadly radioactive fallout clouds extending hundreds of miles from H‑bomb detonations, yet he approved ninety‑six US nuclear weapon tests for 1962. Cold War nuclear testing, production, and disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima have exposed millions to dangerous radioactive particles; these millions are the global hibakusha. Many communities continue to be plagued with dire legacies and ongoing risks: sickness and early mortality, forced displacement, uncertainty and anxiety, dislocation from ancestors and traditional lifestyles, and contamination of food sources and ecosystems.

Based in ten years of field research in more than 20 countries in the Global Hibakusha Project, this book re‑envisions the history of the Cold War as a slow nuclear war, fought on remote battlegrounds against populations powerless to prevent the contamination of their lands and bodies. This comprehensive account necessitates a profound rethinking of the meaning, costs, and legacies of our embrace of nuclear weapons and technologies.

Table of contents:

Introduction: Irradiated and Invisible

Part 1: Technicalities
Chapter 1: Hypocenter
Chapter 2: The Particles that Remain

Part 2: People
Chapter 3: Falling Apart Inside
Chapter 4: Cloaking Contamination

Part 3: Warlords
Chapter 5: Selecting the Irradiated
Chapter 6: The Cold War was a Limited Nuclear War

Part 4: Heirs
Chapter 7: The Slow-Motion Nuclear War

Afterword: Opening Our Eyes