Radiation Nation: Three Mile Island and the Political Transformation of the 1970s
On March 28, 1979, the worst nuclear reactor accident in US history occurred at the Three Mile Island power plant in Central Pennsylvania. Radiation Nation tells the story of what happened that day and in the months and years that followed, as local residents tried to make sense of the emergency. The near-meltdown occurred at a pivotal moment in the United States, as the New Deal coalition unraveled, trust in government eroded, conservatives consolidated their power, and the political left became marginalized. Using the accident to explore this turning point, Natasha Zaretsky provides a fresh interpretation of the era by disclosing how the atomic and ecological imaginaries shaped the conservative ascendancy.
Drawing on the testimony of the men and women who lived in the shadow of the reactor, Radiation Nation shows that the region’s citizens, especially its mothers, became convinced that they had sustained radiological injuries that threatened their reproductive futures. Taking inspiration from the antiwar, environmental and feminist movements, women at Three Mile Island crafted a homegrown ecological politics that wove together concerns over radiological threats to the body, the struggle over abortion and reproductive rights, and eroding trust in authority. This politics was shaped above all by what Zaretsky calls “biotic nationalism,” a new body-centered nationalism that imagined the nation as a living, mortal being and portrayed sickened Americans as evidence of betrayal. The first cultural history of the accident, Radiation Nation reveals the surprising ecological dimensions of post-Vietnam conservatism while showing how growing anxieties surrounding bodily illness infused the political realignment of the 1970s in ways that blurred any easy distinction between left and right.
No Direction Home: The American Family and the Fear of National Decline
Between 1968 and 1980, fears about family deterioration and national decline were ubiquitous in American political culture. In No Direction Home, Natasha Zaretsky shows that these perceptions of decline profoundly shaped one another.
Throughout the 1970s, anxieties about the future of the nuclear family collided with anxieties about the direction of the United States in the wake of military defeat in Vietnam and in the midst of economic recession, Zaretsky explains. By exploring such themes as the controversy surrounding prisoners of war in Southeast Asia, the OPEC oil embargo of 1973-74, and debates about cultural narcissism, Zaretsky reveals that the 1970s marked a significant turning point in the history of American nationalism. After Vietnam, a wounded national identity--rooted in a collective sense of injury and fueled by images of family peril--exploded to the surface and helped set the stage for the Reagan Revolution. With an innovative analysis that integrates cultural, intellectual, and political history, No Direction Home explores the fears that not only shaped an earlier era but also have reverberated into our own time.
Major Problems in American History Since 1945
Designed to encourage critical thinking about history, the Major Problems in American History series introduces students to both primary sources and analytical essays on important topics in U.S. history. This reader serves as the primary anthology for the Post-1945 U.S. History course, Comprehensive topical coverage includes the Cold War; the cultural and political movements of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s; Vietnam; the return of conservatism; globalization; life in the new information age; the post-Cold War era; and race and ethnicity. The Fourth Edition extends its consideration of the period since the 1960s by adding two entirely new chapters and substantially reconfiguring others. In this way, this edition devotes far more attention to the 1970s, a period that has received especially notable scholarly scrutiny in the last few years, and to the period since the end of the Cold War. Key pedagogical elements of the Major Problems format have been retained: chapter introductions, headnotes, and suggested readings.