Gillian Flynn
March 05, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Radioactive Boy Scout

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Ken Silverstein
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

Somewhere on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout in the early ’90s, David Hahn became obsessed with building a breeder reactor. (Blame the rosy pamphlets he read to earn his Atomic Energy badge, blame his absent, divorced parents, blame the fact that it’s apparently easy to get uranium.) Silverstein tells how this lonely high schooler landed americium (he bought 100 smoke detectors wholesale), radium (antique glow-in-the-dark clocks), and uranium (mail order!) and turned his suburban Detroit backyard into a Superfund site. Though David’s character is overshadowed by the science, Silverstein’s details of atomic history are fascinating.

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