2010: 73. The Radioactive Boy Scout

“Golf Manor is the kind of place where nothing unusual is supposed to happen, the kind of place in which people live precisely because it is more than twenty-five miles from downtown Detroit, and theoretically away from the poverty, crime, and other complications attendant on that city.”

The Radioactive Boy Scout, Ken Silverstein

     This is a classic interesting magazine story that was expanded into a full-length book, and couldn’t quite sustain an entire book’s worth of interest.  The story is definitely interesting - an average American boy (who happened to be a boy scout) becomes obsessed with nuclear energy and goes so far as to try to build a nuclear reactor in his backyard - exposing himself and everyone around him to harm, all while being totally oblivious to the dangers (for a myriad of reasons, his ideas of what nuclear materials are like all came out of 1960’s “our friend the atom” type materials - the whole Chernobyl/Three Mile Island aspect of it completely escaped him).  It’s amazing to read how far David (i.e. the boy scout) was able to get in his project without anyone finding out, and how much potential havoc he might have wreaked.  However, there really isn’t enough here to sustain an entire book, even with the author adding all sorts of extra material on, like, the history of the A-bomb, and the issues of radiation poisoning (not even a book one, like this one, that is short, with big print and wide margins).  This is especially true because the story doesn’t have much in the way of denouement.  SPOILER - David is found out, his lab is shut down, and he goes about his sort of mediocre life.  I bet it was a hell of an article, and I can understand the impulse to think there was a book here, but there really wasn’t.


Categories:  Non-Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017