American Ground Zero on Counterpunch’s best 100 Non-Fiction Books of the 20th Century (and Beyond)

7 Apr
Atomic Photographer Carole Gallagher has made Counterpunch’s best 100 Non-Fiction books of the 20th century list with her book American Ground Zero, The Secret Nuclear War

American Ground Zero book cover


As the clock clicked down on the arrival of the new millennium, Alex and I were bemused at the spate of “100 best of the century lists” pouring forth from the New York Times, the New Yorker, Salon, the Guardian and other liberal publications. The lists were predictable and not many of the entries remained on our groaning shelves. So we decided to compile our own catalogue of the best books written in English and, later translated into English, during the 20th Century. We spent weeks whittling it down to roughly 100 titles for each. These became reading lists for like-minded CounterPunchers and proved two of the most popular pieces we’d ever run on the website, even pricking the interest of many librarians who were forced to confront the gaps in their own collections.

Over the decade, those pages were up on the site they attracted well-over two million unique visitors. Then disaster struck. During the Great Transformation of the CounterPunch website to a Word Press platform, those lists were mangled beyond recognition. I remember calling Alex and telling him to cautiously look at the wreckage. He clicked on the page, gasped and even sniffled a bit. “It’s the burning of the Alex…andria library all over again!” he quipped. Neither of us had the energy to recreate the lost pages.

Since then we’ve received many pleas to resurrect those lists, the most recent coming from an old pal of ours whose book had earned a spot in the top 100. Finally, I relented.  I spent the last couple of weeks reviewing the entries and some old email exchanges with Alex about books that we both admired, which had been published in the intervening years. So we now present once again our 100 best non-fiction books published in English in the 20th century (with a few important additions), along with the introduction we wrote for our book Serpents in the Garden. (The translated books will follow.)

Jeffrey St. Clair



8 Mar sanonofre

Atomic Photographer James Lerager is part of an exhibition on at BC Space in Laguna Beach, CA, called “SILENT BUT DEADLY : CHERNOBYL-FUKUSHIMA-SAN ONOFRE”.

James Lerager has been photographing and documenting nuclear sites since the 1980s. His work has been widely exhibited and published. He is the photographer / author of the book “In the Shadow of the Cloud: Photographs & Histories of America’s Atomic Veterans” and several monographs. James Lerager’s forthcoming book – a global perspective on the human and environmental consequences of the nuclear age – is currently in preparation.sanonofre

When San Onofre’s nuclear plant closed last summer, many breathed a sigh of relief. Yet San Onofre still requires a multi-decade ‘decommissioning,’ with radioactive fuel and components carted away to uncertain disposal, at further expense measured in hundreds of millions of dollars. Who profits and who pays is in dispute.

When the Chernobyl reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, the Soviet government initially kept it secret. Some 600,000 workers and soldiers were ordered to build the now crumbling Sarcophagus. Estimates of excess Chernobyl cancers range into the 100s of thousands, and the region will remain contaminated for 100s of years.

When the Fukushima nuclear power plant was overwhelmed by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, three reactors melted down and Japan’s Prime Minister considered ordering the evacuation of Tokyo, which could have displaced tens of millions of people.

Some 400 commercial nuclear power reactors are operational around the world, 100 of them in the United States. The true costs of the nuclear era are largely unknown and generally suppressed. The unanswered question is whether or not we will continue to allow our leaders to drag us along a path toward a permanent nuclear dependency, with all its uncertainty and risks.

Dates: Febuary 25 – April 26, 2014

Artist’s Reception : Thursday Feb 27 : 7 pm

 : James Lerager : Jun Hori : Kei Kobayashi
: Ed Heckerman : Ron Azevedo

Film Screening : March 11 : Metamorphosis by Jun Hori : 7 pm
(3rd Anniversary of the 2011 Earthquake & Tsunami)

See more about this show here.

Nuclear photography: Making the invisible visible

4 Dec Nevada Test Site from American Ground Zero

Nuclear photography: Making the invisible visible
Carole Gallagher

Published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists November/December 2013 vol. 69 no. 6 42-46

In this essay, the author explores whether nuclear catastrophe is beyond the reach of art. A documentary photographer, she reflects on her own work capturing the lives of those who lived downwind of the nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site in the United States. Many years after being immersed in the project for a decade, and documenting the effects of 1,000 nuclear devices that had exploded above this population, the author finally arrives at the answer to her question.

American Ground Zero cancer Mormon Nevada nuclear test photography

When the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, two types of photographs captured this gripping moment: those that showed a mushroom cloud on the horizon, and those that depicted devastated cities and the many survivors who had been burned beyond recognition. From that year until today, 125,000 nuclear warheads have been constructed, and nine countries have nuclear weapon capability (Kristensen and Norris, 2013). So when thinking about art and destruction, it might be fair to ask: Is art at all effective in reminding the world of the destructive impulses that lead to war, and is art effective in subduing humanity’s urge—and possibly need—to fight wars? The answer, at least in terms of art in the nuclear age, is possibly no. Art, when produced at a distance—from an artist studio or loft, say—cannot stop nuclear proliferation. It cannot stop a war.

Read the rest of the essay here.

Dan Budnik: Marching To The Freedom Dream

25 Sep

News from Dan Budnik, Atomic Photographer

Dear friends and colleagues,Less than a month ago the Kickstarter campaign raised £ 10,000, which guaranteed the initial printing costs for the publication of my Civil Rights book,Marching To The Freedom Dream, to be published by Trolley Books in the Spring of 2014. It will consist of my comprehensive editing of three seminal marches that I photographed between 1958 and 1963.

August 28th of this year was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Commemorating this event, TIME magazine did a special double issue featuring my photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the cover, with an additional four spreads inside this collector’s issue. On the same day Trolley Books started it’s Kickstarter campaign in London with an opening exhibition with my photographs of the three marches in their gallery.

I would like to thank all who contributed to make the first financial goal a swift reality. Now we are in the final week of the Kickstarter campaign and we are appealing to those who may want to contribute towards the total costs of £ 30,000 for a book that honors Dr. King’s non-violent legacy – also, I am very proud that none of my photographs contain any overt violence.My initial contribution of two original 8×10 inch gelatin silver prints of the TIME cover image were quickly sold, now in this last week we have decided to add several new attractive options for pledging. Among those are the limited edition of the book, the special signed cover of TIME magazine and two additional 8×10 inch gelatin silver images: Coretta Scott King and MLK, Jr. holding hands, and Rev. Frederick Shuttlesworth eulogizing the neo-martyr Jimmy Lee Jackson. Please consult the Kickstarter website for all existing options.
This book has been a dream of mine for many years. Now this dream is fast becoming a reality and it will be quite wonderful to see a beautiful publication that honors the leaders and “foot soldiers” who served and sacrificed to make the Civil Rights movement a global role model for all of mankind’s oppressed people. I thank you for your involvement and financial support.
With my regard and all good wishes,
Dan Budnik

Mary Kavanagh joins APG

15 Jul

Mary Kavanagh is an artist, educator and arts administrator living and working in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, where she is Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Faculty of Fine Arts, at the University of Lethbridge.

Since 2007, she has been developing a body of work that examines and documents sites connected to the development of weapons of mass destruction, from the first atomic bomb, to cold war nuclear and chemical weapons testing programs, to the disposal of nuclear weapons stockpiling according to global treaty agreements. She has photographed and filmed at historic and active military sites, including Trinity, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; Los Alamos, New Mexico; Utah Test and Training Range, Utah; Wendover Airfield, Utah; and Hiroshima, Japan.

Click here to read her full bio and see more images.

Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Motor, Ordnance Disposal, United States Army, Utah Test and Training Range, North Range, Utah, 2010 The UTTR is America's largest combined restricted land and special use airspace area, occupying 19,000 square miles of airspace with 2,675 square miles of ground space. Dugway Proving Ground, the Army’s chemical and biological weapons storage and testing space, is in the South Range, while the North Range handles most other testing activities. Explosives of over 10-kiloton yield can be detonated there, currently the only facility in the U.S. where such high yield ordnance disposal is permitted. Hundreds of rocket motors, most of which come from the Hercules facility in nearby Magna, are being disposed of according to START treaty agreements. Depicted is a C-4 detonation of a Minuteman Missile Stage One Rocket Motor, weighing 41,200 pounds and yielding a 3000 foot high dust cloud with a shock wave that travelled 2.3 miles in 4.5 seconds.


Rocky Flats Museum Exhibition Installation

20 Nov

Rocky Flats exhibition on 9News

19 Nov

9News feature on APG, Interview with Bob Del Tredici
To watch the interview go here:

Article written by Blair Shiff
KUSA – Rocky Flats was a key part in the federal government’s pursuit to build nuclear weapons during the Cold War. There is an Arvada museum – dedicated to Rocky Flats – that has a new exhibit opening Friday night to honor the photographers who captured the day-to-day operations during the bombing complex’s peak.

Founding member of the Atomic Photographers Guild Robert Del Tredici stopped by 9NEWS to talk with 9NEWS BusinessReporter Gregg Moss about what pictures will be on display in addition to what his role was at the complex.

“I spent a lot of time photographing nuclear weapons all over America, and in the process, I met other photographers and said ‘Let’s join together,'” Tredici said.

Tredici explains how he was not affiliated with the government but did write a book on the bomb factories that he covered. He also clarified how his pictures were not concealed by the government.

“No, that’s a misconception. There was public-relation officials on site whose mission was to interface with the press,” Tredici said.

The pictures show several of the bombs from the Cold War as well as operations in the complex – which includes the making of bombs.

If you are interested in attending the event, it opens Friday at 5612 Yukon St.

Nate Chisholm contributed to this report.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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