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Consequential Damages of Nuclear War
The Rongelap Report
Barbara Rose Johnston (Author); Holly M. Barker (Author)
312 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / Jul, 2008
Paperback (978-1-59874-346-3)
Hardback (978-1-59874-345-6)
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Related Interest
  - Anthropology
  - Environmental Studies
  - Health & Medicine

Winner of the 2011 The Society for Medical Anthropology New Millennium Book Award

The hydrogen test-bomb Bravo, dropped on the Marshall Islands in 1954, had enormous consequences for the Rongelap people. Anthropologists Barbara Rose Johnston and Holly Barker provide
"This ethnography is appropriate to use in undergraduate and graduate level anthropology courses to illustrate how meticulous ethnographic fieldwork can serve as essential evidence in cases concerning human rights violations. In addition to demonstrating what applying anthropology can accomplish, this book also suggests the importance of long-term ethnographic analysis and multiple methodologies for acquiring data, as well as what can be gained from engaging with professionals both in and outside of anthropology. The readability of this ethnography makes it highly accessible to the public, and more importantly, to policy makers and military personnel who can make a contribution in working to prevent these atrocities from occurring again."

- Lauren Harris, Journal of Ecological Anthropology

"As Johnston and Barker thoroughly document, the losses of the Rongelapese went much further and deeper; the harm struck to the core of their existence as a community closely tied to the atoll... As the Obama administration tries to convince the United States and the world that we must achieve complete and verifiable nuclear disarmament, it should give the recommendations of this book a fresh look."

- Arjun Makhijani, The Nonproliferation Review

"Although the complexity of the problems Johnston and Barker are tackling makes this book a challenging read, the authors take great pains to make sure that their text is understandable. The book is neatly organized, the text is refreshingly free of linguistic obfuscation, and a glossary at the back helps nonspecialists make sense of technical terminology. Researchers and activists who are pursuing similar projects will appreciate the detailed explanation of the authors’ research questions, methodology and data suources. The Rongelap Report is an excellent example of what collaborative politically engaged public anthropolgy is capable of achieving, when incisive scholarship is brought to bear on urgent problems of human rights, cultural integrity, and policy making."

- Laura A. McNamara, Journal of Anthropological Research

" In this riveting study, Johnston and Barker show what happens when a defenseless population is exposed to radiation from a bomb 1000 times as large as the one that destroyed Hiroshima. The 1954 Bravo test in the Marshall Islands damaged not only people’s bodies but the way of life of entire communities as well as the natural environment. Following the bomb test, the U.S. government subjected the victims to decades of medical testing as part of a secret military research project—even going so far as to deliberately put evacuees back into harm’s way for further exposure. With extraordinary sensitivity and insight, the authors draw upon extensive scientific and medical research but do so in a way that allows the Marshallese to tell their own story. The experience of those exposed is sadly reminiscent of that of survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were also studied but not treated by U.S. occupation authorities, and who suffered from recurrent health concerns, psychological damage, social ostracism, sexual humiliation, miscarriages and birth defects, and perpetual worries about the well-being of future generations. The Consequential Damages of Nuclear War is not only a model community study; it is a must read for anyone interested in the impact of nuclear weapons’ use upon any human society. "

- Peter J. Kuznick, Professor of History and Director, Nuclear Studies Institute, American University

" This powerful, sad, outrageous, important, spellbinding book is a dramatic history of America's second nuclear war, the one the United States Government waged with nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific against the Marshallese people, and with our own military personnel—the Atomic Veterans, who were ordered to participate in the atomic and hydrogen bomb tests of the postwar years. The consequences were devastating for both the natives and the service personnel, the cover-ups were criminal, and the lessons are palpable and relevant today. The Rongelap Report is at the top of my 2008 required reading list for both candidates and voters. That includes you! "

- Martin J. Sherwin, PhD, Pulitzer Prize winning author (with Kai Bird) of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

"Consequential Damages of Nuclear War lays bare one of the cruelest chapters in modern history, where the people of the Marshall Islands were used as unwitting human guinea pigs for 67 nuclear blasts in the South Pacific, their homelands drenched by wave after wave of radioactive fallout and its deadly legacy of cancers, birth defects and infertility. Here is a disturbing and unflinching chronicle of official lies, broken promises and felonious governmental indifference to horrific human suffering, cultural genocide and environmental ruin. Yet this terrifying story is not entirely grim. The pages pulse with the defiant voices of the Marshallese people themselves, who courageously refuse to play the passive role of atomic victims. At last, Johnston and Barker have given us a transcendent tribute to the heroic resistance of these nuclear nomads. "

- Jeffrey St. Clair, co-editor CounterPunch; author, Born Under a Bad Sky

" Consequential Damages of Nuclear War is a testament to why anthropology matters. Barbara Rose Johnston and Holly Barker bring heart, mind, memory and conscience to document a tragic past that many would have preferred be forgotten. Their careful scholarship and representative activism boldly declares the promise of engaged applied anthropology. "

- David Price, Saint Martin's University

"When I began to read this book, I found I could not put it away. In this gripping story, Johnston and Barker make a persuasive argument for redefining the compensation principle to include community damages associated with the loss of a way of life. Contending with the classification and reclassification of key government documents, and incorporating persuasive evidence from oral histories, archival research, and cultural landscape mapping, they render in powerful detail the collateral damage from the Cold War and the gravity of local burdens borne in the name of the national interest."

- Edward Liebow, Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation

incontrovertible evidence of physical and financial damages to individuals and cultural and psycho-social damages to the community through use of declassified government documents, oral histories and ethnographic research, conducted with the Marshallese community within a unique collaborative framework. Their work helped produce a $1 billion award by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal and raises issues of bioethics, government secrecy, human rights, military testing, and academic activism. The report, reproduced here with accompanying materials, should be read by everyone concerned with the effects of nuclear war and is an essential text for courses in history, environmental studies, bioethics, human rights, and related subjects.

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