Nuclear Bodies

The Global Hibakusha

Nuclear Bodies: The Global Hibakusha

by Robert A. Jacobs

Yale University Press (2022)

In the fall of 1961, President Kennedy somberly warned Americans about deadly radioactive fallout clouds extending hundreds of miles from H‑bomb detonations, yet he approved ninety‑six US nuclear weapon tests for 1962. Cold War nuclear testing, production, and disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima have exposed millions to dangerous radioactive particles; these millions are the global hibakusha. Many communities continue to be plagued with dire legacies and ongoing risks: sickness and early mortality, forced displacement, uncertainty and anxiety, dislocation from ancestors and traditional lifestyles, and contamination of food sources and ecosystems. Nuclear Bodies weaves these seemingly distinct legacies into a comprehensive global history, examining the colonialism(s) with which nuclear weapon states "select the irradiated," the political use of medical models to render their harm invisible, and the millennia-long legacies of our embrace of nuclear technologies.

Now available in North America
Available worldwide in May 2022

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Reviews

"Inexorable clarity and care for his fellow humans mark Robert Jacobs's guide to the Cold War as a limited nuclear war, whose harms disfigure any possible future."—Norma Field, author of In the Realm of a Dying Emperor: Japan at Century’s End


"Jacobs leaves behind the division of nuclear power into civilian and military spheres. He argues convincingly that propagandists drew this line in order to clear the way for the unhindered pursuit of nuclear weapons. In so doing, he masterfully shows how military leaders waged a limited nuclear war on the environment and human bodies."—Kate Brown, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


"Nuclear Bodies is an urgent book, a work of great ethical gravity and political import that grapples with the pernicious legacies of radiological colonialism. Jacobs unsettles conventional distinctions between war and peace, exhorting us to reimagine the Cold War as a limited nuclear war."—Rob Nixon, author of Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor

A "grimly important analysis of the Cold War" — Nature


To read more about the book's contents, view short videos of the themes, full lectures on Global Hibakusha issues, or learn more about the author, continue on deeper into the website.


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