It was an honor to read Leisl Carr Childers' review of Downwind (excerpted below) in the July 2015 issue of Environmental History, a preeminent interdisciplinary journal published by Oxford University Press. A former assistant director of the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Childers is intimately familiar with the stories associated with this period in history. She's a well-respected scholar of the American West at the University of Northern Iowa and author of the upcoming book The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin, due out this fall. You can read her full review of Downwind online if you subscribe to Environmental History, or access it online at a public or university library.
Excerpts from Review of Downwind by Leisl Carr Childers, Environmental History (July 2015), pp 527-8.
"In this riveting narrative about the experiences of those who suffered in the shadow of atmospheric nuclear testing and uranium mining, Sarah Alisabeth Fox offers readers a glimpse into what it meant to be part of 'all those little communities' in the American West downwind of military test sites and big corporate mines. For Fox, downwind is at once a concept, a state of being, and a geographic location. During the latter half of the twentieth century, downwind meant hazardous exposure to radiation; to be downwind meant to be rural, pastoral, Native or Mormon; to live downwind meant abiding in an undesirable place, proximate to dangerous activities, with no refuge or recourse. Given these parameters, Fox argues that Downwinders, those who share in this concept, state of being, and place, represent the human cost of national security during the Cold War."
"Navajo artist Edward Singer's 2008 painting Dear Downwinder on the cover captures the essence of her study---the problematic intersection of bodies and radioactive contamination."
"Written in an accessible literary style rarely seen in works that employ rigorous theoretical analysis, Downwind offers students and scholars of the Cold War a new perspective on the resilience of Downwinders despite efforts to obfuscate the effects of radiation exposure."
"Current works on the same topic... offer similar insights but do not interrogate the meaning of downwind. Combining the intricacies of the official record with the complicated narratives of the individuals she interviewed, Fox provides texture and insight into becoming and being downwind within the framework of both nuclear testing and uranium mining."