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Yellow Dirt: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed Hardcover – September 21, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 56 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In the 1940s, when the U.S. government was embarking on developing atomic weapons, it discovered huge uranium deposits in Navajo territory covering parts of Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. Mines constructed there yielded uranium that would be used in the Manhattan Project and eventually in the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Navajo themselves saw little of the huge profits from uranium but as workers and land dwellers would suffer radiation exposure four times that of the Japanese targeted by the A-bomb. Award-winning environmental journalist Pasternak follows four generations of Navajo families, from the patriarch who warned against violating the land to those tempted by the prospects of jobs and money. She chronicles the cultural stoicism that prohibited them from complaining for so long about the alarming rates of cancer deaths, the betrayal of trust by corporate and government interests, the growing awareness of the tragedy visited on them in the name of national security, and the efforts to fight for restoration. A stunning look at a shameful chapter in American history with long-lasting implications for all Americans concerned with environmental justice. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"This book will break your heart. Not only an enormous achievement – literally, a piece of groundbreaking investigative journalism – it also illustrates exactly what careful, painstaking, and risk-taking reporting should do: Show us what we’ve become as a people, and sharpen our vision of who we, the people, ought to become."--The Christian Science Monitor

"Studded with vivid character sketches and evocative descriptions of the American landscape, Pasternak's scarifying account of  uranium mining's disastrous consequences often reads like a novel...does justic to the ethical and historial ambiguities while crafting a narrative of exemplary clarity."--Los Angeles Times

"Chilling. Has the cumulative power of scrupulous truth-telling and the value of old-style investigative reportage."--Laura Miller, Salon

“This book is a masterwork. It is journalism at its very best—a story told fully and eloquently. A story that everyone should know.”
—Michael Connelly, author of Nine Dragons

“One of those stories that makes us believe all over again in journalism, in its power to bring truth to light.” —Harvard’s Nieman Narrative Digest

“This compelling and compassionate book could not be more timely. A gripping story of the betrayal of the Navajos, it comes at a time where once again the human costs of energy production are slighted and both the government and corporations ride roughshod over the least powerful.”
—Richard White, Pulitzer Prize finalist, Recipient of a Macarthur Fellowship, and Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University

"An astounding book. Judy Pasternak has dug deeply into the archives and into the ground itself to uncover the real story behind one of the darkest chapters of the Cold War on American soil. With her dogged pursuit of the facts and an elegant prose style, Pasternak elevates investigative journalism into the realm of literature." -- Tom Zoellner, author of Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock that Shaped the World

"Disturbing and illuminating. Pasternak evokes the magnitude of a nuclear disaster that continues to reverberate. Unfolds like true crime, where real-life heroes and villains play dynamic roles in a drama that escalates page by page. Eye-opening and riveting, "Yellow Dirt" gives a sobering glimpse into our atomic past and adds a critical voice to the debate about resurrecting America's nuclear industry."--The Washington Post

"A window into a dark chapter of modern history that still reverberates today.Transporting readers into a little-known country-within-a-country, award-winning journalist Judy Pasternak gives rare voice to Navajo perceptions of the world, their own complicated involvement with uranium mining, and their political coming-of-age. A work of the highest quality journalism, an exposé made possible by meticulous research... She has taken a large cast of characters, a bulging list of corporations and government agencies, and a scientific subject and managed to unite them in a story that the average reader can comprehend."--Stacy Rae Brownlie, BookBrowse

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
  • Hardcover : 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1416594825
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1416594826
  • Product Dimensions : 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Publisher : Free Press; First Edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 56 ratings