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    Occupy Wall Street: What Just Happened? eBook on Amazon

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Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town

Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic TownI remember reading Wendell Berry writing about the concept of  a biography of place.

In Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town, the author Kelly McMasters takes that concept to heart.  She approaches the biography from all sides, from the personal to the geographic to the ecological.

Once she has firmly placed us in this working class Long Island, NY community that serves the tony Hamptons, she moves to the subject of her subtitle.   Shirley is just south of the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL).  The community not only provides the blue collar support for the white collar science, but the members of the Shirley community are the downstream victims of the lab’s callous dumping of radiation and carcinogens.  This is where the book turns from biography to .

McMasters connects BNL to the  larger dangerous history of nuclear power at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Shoreham, and Indian Point. The BNL’s attitude of science over safety, and complete disconnect from the human lives they impact is a cautionary tale in this age of hydraulic fracturing.

The book also takes in many cultural mileposts including William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., Love Canal, Flight 800, a UFOcrash and Prada-wearing Anna Wintour.

I have to give a shout-out to Democracy Now! to alerting me to this 2008 book.  Since I recently criticized DN! for their inadequate election coverage, then I should also give them credit where its due.

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