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Book 100 Suns: 1945-1962


100 Suns: 1945-1962

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | 100 Suns: 1945-1962.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Michael Light(Author)

    Book details

'100 Suns' refers to J. Robert Oppenheimer's response to the first Los Alamos test of the atomic bomb, at which he famously quoted a description from the Bhagavad Gita - 'a sun brighter than a thousand suns'. This extraordinary book photographically documents one hundred US nuclear detonations from the 215 declared atmospheric nuclear tests conducted by the US between July 1945 and November 1962. After that date the tests were carried out underground. Within that period a total of 1030 tests in total are known to have been executed. The atmospheric tests were conducted in the Nevada desert and on various islands in the Pacific. The book is divided between the desert and the ocean.

The photographs have been gathered by Michael Light, who previously collected the material from NASA for Full Moon, published by Jonathan Cape in the UK and worldwide for the millennium. He has drawn the material from the archives at Los Alamos and from the US National Archives in Maryland. This material was formerly classified but is now in the public domain. It includes photographs taken by the clandestine Lookout Mountain squad based in Hollywood, whose 250 producers, directors and cameramen together with thirty to forty still photographers were sworn to secrecy.

The photographs are presented with no embellishment. There is no introductory essay with the voice of a moral authority, but simply the presentation of the evidence. Each photograph is presented with the name of the test, its size in mega or kilotons, the date and the location. At the back of the book there are detailed captions, a chronology of the development of nuclear weapons, a list of the names of the declared 1030 tests, and an extensive bibliography.

One of the virtues of the book is its emphasis on data not on argument. Every reader will bring to the book their own imagination of the consequences and implications of such weaponry. The pictures are all taken at the moment of detonation, not during the aftermath. The pictures of explosions are accompanied by pictures of the witnesses - the onlookers from what has been described as the 'US imperial verandah'. Given the global political situation, the timing of the book's publication unfortunately could not be more apt.

An awesome collection of 100 previously classified photographs of nuclear tests conducted by the US between 1945 and 1962, with detailed captions and chronology of the development of the nuclear bomb.

3.4 (9122)
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Book details

  • PDF | 208 pages
  • Michael Light(Author)
  • Jonathan Cape; First Edition edition (9 Oct. 2003)
  • English
  • 4
  • Art, Architecture & Photography

Read online or download a free book: 100 Suns: 1945-1962


Review Text

  • By londonreader21 on 2 February 2004

    Within the covers of this book Michael Light has collected official photographs from 100 of the 215 nuclear explosions set off in the atmosphere by the United States Government between 1945 and 1962: the point where they began carrying out tests underground. Shot entirely for scientific and archival purposes, perhaps the first thing to say about these photographs is that they have an absolutely staggering beauty. The notion of a fascinated child playing with fire springs to mind, along with the revulsion of what a thing of such beauty can do to a child's delicate skin. But even confined between the carefully designed pages of this book, regarded with a cognisance of the fact that the most recent was made more than forty years ago, their sheer force quickly gives reason to Oppenheimer’s famous quote from Hindu scripture: “I am become death, shatterer of worlds”. Oppenheimer, the polymath who alongside his scientific education found time to study Greek, Latin, French, German, Classics and Eastern philosophy, was apparently not quite the man for melodrama that those unfamiliar with direct sight of a nuclear blast might assume. Less than a month after he witnessed the detonation of the world’s first nuclear bomb in the New Mexico desert on 16th July 1945, as demonstrations of how the world had changed, two Japanese cities ceased to exist, and on 10th August 1945 the Japanese absolute surrender brought about the end of the World War that had accelerated the development of nuclear weaponry. But the nuclear genie could never be put back in the bottle.Atom bombs it transpires all had names. Little Boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, is described in the book as “ a crude gun-type uranium device”, which caused 201,468 casualties while only actually harnessing 1.3% of the atomic energy in its core. By 1952, seven years later and still twelve months prior to the death of Stalin, technology had marched significantly forward with the testing of a bomb cosily called Mike at Enewetak Atoll, bombs having now become too big to test on the American mainland. Mike, a 10.4 megaton, experimental liquid deuterium bomb, had an explosive force greater than the entire combined ordinance used in both the World Wars. Looking back now the word insanity creeps to mind. History continues to debate the point we came nearest to blowing ourselves from the planet; but the statistics remain terrifying.In some ways 100 Suns might be said to stand before the world as evidence of the arrogance of the human race. Robert Oppenheimer would have approved of this. He opposed the development of the thermo-nuclear Hydrogen bomb, but at the instruction of President Truman continued working on the project. In assembling 100 Suns, Michael Light shows a considerable self discipline. The Bomb after all, in all it’s immensity, horror and beauty, encourages the utterance of rhetoric. In avoiding such opportunities as introductory essays Light, and editor Mark Holborn, have produced a very much more powerful message.

  • By Ty Fairclough on 11 August 2017

    Each image tells its own story, each with it's own personality. A thought provoking book indeed.

  • By K. HARRIS on 31 July 2014


  • By Robert Garrett on 25 October 2015

    Happy to choose, sad to lose, great to buy, reach for the sky! Comes highly recommended by its end user.

  • By Guest on 30 December 2016

    Excellent. Fascinating book just as was wanted.

  • By Guest on 6 June 2005

    A wonderfully presented pictorial guide showing almost half of the American atmospheric atomic & h-bomb detonations, dividing tests between the continental USA and pacific proving grounds. It's a large book containing the photos and individual test descriptions, giving you a rare insight to the destructive power of man's most powerful deterent to date. The closing sections of the book gives a guide to each detonation featured plus a chronological history of US weapon invantory. If you think you have all the books on this subject and don't have this one, you're missing out!

  • By Paul on 10 May 2004

    I have flicked through this book a number of times and each time it makes me think about why these weapons were built. What are they for, really? So they were built never to be used, huh? hmmm, never did understand that. Anyway, this book really does provoke some thought; utter destruction can be so beautiful. And once you've looked at the pics, read the history of the arms race in the Appendix and see just how big the so-called 'missile gap' really was...

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