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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Craig Nelson Narrator: George Newber Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The Age of Radiance is the first complete history of the Atomic Age, a brilliant account of the men and women who uncovered the secrets of the nucleus, brought its power to America, and ignited the twentieth century.

When Marie Curie, Enrico Fermi, and Edward Teller forged the science of radioactivity, they created a revolution that arced from the end of the nineteenth century, through the course of World War II and the Cold War, to our own twenty-first-century confrontation with the dangers of nuclear power and proliferation. While nuclear science improves our everyday lives, radiation’s invisible powers can also trigger cancer and cellular mayhem. Writing with a biographer’s passion, Craig Nelson unlocks one of the great mysteries of the universe in a work that is tragic, triumphant, and above all, fascinating.

Nelson illuminates a pageant of fascinating historical figures: Marie and Pierre Curie, Albert Einstein, Franklin Roosevelt, J. Robert Oppenheimer, John F. Kennedy, and Mikhail Gorbachev, among others. He reveals how brilliant Jewish scientists fleeing Hitler transformed America from a nation that created lightbulbs and telephones into one that split atoms, and how the most grotesque weapon ever invented could realize Alfred Nobel’s lifelong dream of global peace.

Radiance defies our common-sense views of nature. Radiation is as scary a word as cancer, but it is the power that keeps our planet warm, as well as the force behind earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, and so organic to all life that even our own human bodies are radioactive. By tracing mankind’s complicated relationship with the dangerous energy it unleashed, Nelson reveals how atomic power and radiation are indivisible from our everyday lives.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “As he did with the space program in Rocket Men, in The Age of Radiance Craig Nelson has brought an era and an ethos to life. At the same time, he’s performed an even more difficult task: he’s made both the scientific and political complexities of the atomic era comprehensible and transparent.”

    Daniel Okrent, New York Times bestselling author of Last Call

  • “Wow! Craig Nelson’s The Age of Radiance is like the best of John McPhee mixed with the page-turning glory of a science fiction thriller. A magnificent storyteller, Nelson takes even the most atomized of details and spins a dazzling history of the Atomic Age. This book gives you x-ray glasses: After reading it you literally can’t walk down the street without seeing everything in our world anew.”

    Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author of Horse Soldiers

  • “Nelson writes a wonderfully detailed, anecdote-filled account of atomic energy, from Wilhelm Röntgen’s 1895 discovery of radiation to the ongoing hangover of the Fukushima disaster…Other authors have covered the myriad ways this invisible power impacts our lives, but Nelson brilliantly weaves a plethora of material into one noteworthy volume.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “This is no impersonal ‘march of science’ story. The author also shows how the development of nuclear physics was deeply influenced by contemporary politics and the interplay of the personalities involved. An engaging history that raises provocative questions about the future of nuclear science.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A sweeping panorama of the nuclear age, from Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery of x-rays to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, paying particular attention to the colorful scientists whose brilliance and diligence unlocked the secrets of the atom…Nelson tells their stories vividly, with a journalist’s eye for symmetry and irony; the science itself is, at times, less central to his narrative than the fusion-reactions of interacting scientists and government officials.”


  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, March 2014
  • One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2014
  • Longlisted for the 2015 PEN Literary Award
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