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Extended Audio Sample Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock That Shaped the World, by Tom Zoellner Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (543 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Tom Zoellner Narrator: Patrick Lawlor Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Uranium is a common element in the earth’s crust and the only naturally occurring mineral with the power to end all life on the planet. After World War II, it reshaped the global order—whoever could master uranium could master the world.

Marie Curie gave us hope that uranium would be a miracle panacea, but the Manhattan Project gave us reason to believe that civilization would end with apocalypse. Slave labor camps in Africa and Eastern Europe were built around mine shafts, and America would knowingly send more than six hundred uranium miners to their graves in the name of national security.

Fortunes have been made from this yellow dirt; massive energy grids have been run from it. Fear of it panicked the American people into supporting a questionable war with Iraq, and its specter threatens to create another conflict in Iran. Now, some are hoping it can help avoid a global warming catastrophe.

In Uranium, Tom Zoellner takes readers around the globe in this intriguing look at the mineral that can sustain life or destroy it.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Zoellner examines how uranium has helped shape our recent history and could determine our future. His lively prose carries the reader through physics and history lessons alike, never failing to remind us what’s at stake when it comes to uranium…Zoellner vividly conveys both the potential benefits and the harm that uranium holds for human civilization.”

    Washington Post

  • “[A] fine piece of journalism…[Zoellner] delves into the complex science, politics, and history of this radioactive mineral, which presents the best and worst of mankind…He superbly paints vivid pictures of uranium’s impact.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Narrator Patrick Lawlor applies just the right tone of aplomb to this examination of science and politics…Lawlor’s performance grows on the listener. His enthusiasm keeps the listener engaged…He also has a talent for accents that adds interesting nuances to his performance.”


  • “Alive with devious personalities, Zoellner’s narrative ultimately exposes the frightening vulnerability of a world with too many sources of a dangerous substance and too little wisdom to control it. A riveting journey into perilous terrain.”


Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by A | 2/12/2014

    " This book is good, however, it kind of skips around a bit. It talks of the history and a bit of science behind uranium, as well as the social and economic impacts uranium can have on different populations. Very interesting read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Camille Mccarthy | 1/26/2014

    " I liked the premise of this book very much- it tried to look at Uranium's affect on the world from a global point of view, going through its discovery, the various periods of history which involved it, its benefits to humanity and its disastrous capabilities. This was a very broad scope and I felt at times that the book could have used more editing since the author often gets sidetracked by little tidbits of information he's found along the way and includes them at times when he probably should have focused more on his main points. He does make a lot of good points but sometimes they are buried in a lot of other information that isn't really necessary. In all this book was very interesting for anyone who wants to know more about uranium, nuclear energy, weapons politics, and mining practices in a variety of countries. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Saul | 12/20/2013

    " it wasn't as detailed as i expected it to be, however the author probably tried his best "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Erik Nygaard | 11/10/2013

    " I would feel like a total nerd if I had bought this book. But I finished Yiddish Policeman's Union on my way to a conference. Then at the conference they gave me this book so I don't feel nerdy... Well not that nerdy. "

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About the Author

Tom Zoellner is the author of Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock That Shaped the World, winner of the 2010 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award; The Heartless Stone: A Journey through the World of Diamonds, Deceit, and Desire; and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller An Ordinary Man. He has worked as a reporter for the Arizona Republic and San Francisco Chronicle.