The Apocalypse Factory
Plutonium and the Making of the Atomic Age

A thrilling narrative of scientific triumph, decades of secrecy, and the unimaginable destruction wrought by the creation of the atomic bomb.

“Hanford, the vast complex that bred plutonium for the first atomic bombs on the banks of the mighty Columbia River in eastern Washington, has never had its full story told. Steve Olson now meets that challenge in a lively, dramatic, thrilling narrative of wartime crisis and scientific brilliance.”   – Richard Rhodes

“Olson delivers gripping accounts of the Hanford nuclear reservation’s construction, the iconic summer 1945 test in New Mexico, and the bombs’ destruction of Japanese cities. . . . A riveting history.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens

Winner of the Washington State Book Award. Shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Award. Named one of the best books of 2016 by Amazon.


Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens interweaves vivid personal stories with the history, science, and economic forces that influenced the fates and futures of those around the volcano on May 18, 1980.


“In Eruption, science writer Steve Olson goes well beyond recounting Mount St. Helens’ geologic awakening, deadly explosion and aftermath. This fascinating book also chronicles the economic and cultural tensions gripping this part of the nation in the run-up to the May 18, 1980, catastrophe.”  — Science News

“A first-class, meticulously crafted piece of reportage that is as exciting as it is informative―and will long stand as a classic of descriptive narrative of the biggest American volcanic eruption of all our lifetimes―or so we all hope!” Simon Winchester

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Steve Olson is the author of the book The Apocalypse Factory: Plutonium and the Making of the Atomic Age, a new history of the nuclear era told from the perspective of the Hanford nuclear reservation. His previous book, Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens, won the Washington State Book Award and was named one of the best nonfiction books of 2016 by Amazon. He also is the author of Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and other books, and he has written for the Atlantic Monthly, Science, the Smithsonian, and many other magazines. Since 1979, he has been a consultant writer for the National Academy of Sciences, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and other national scientific organizations. A native of Washington State, he now lives in Seattle.


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“The Apocalypse Factory illustrates what happened beneath the mushroom cloud: an important piece of history that humanity should not forget and one that should never be repeated.”

–Taue Tomihisa, Mayor of Nagasaki

© 1980-2020, Steve Olson, Author :: :: Website: Web Studio Seattle

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