“Wow! Craig Nelson’s The Age of Radiance is like the best of John McPhee mixed with the page-turning glory of a science-fiction thriller. A magnificent storyteller, Nelson takes even the most atomized of details and spins a dazzling history of the Atomic Age. This book gives you X-ray glasses: after reading it you literally can’t walk down the street without seeing everything in our world anew.”
—Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers and In Harm’s Way

“The atomic age arrived with a bang in 1945, terrifying the world with the threat of nuclear holocaust while offering the possibility of a cheap source of energy. Yet neither scenario followed and the era petered out with the century’s end, as the digital age was ushered in. Nelson (Rocket Men) writes a wonderfully detailed, anecdote-filled account of atomic energy, from Wilhelm Roentgen’s 1895 discovery of radiation to the ongoing hangover of the Fukushima disaster.  … Other authors have covered the myriad ways this invisible power impacts our lives, but Nelson brilliantly weaves a plethora of material into one noteworthy volume.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Nelson’s coverage of the science underlying this saga is admirably thorough and accessible, but this is no impersonal “march of science” story. The author also shows how the development of nuclear physics was deeply influenced by contemporary politics and the interplay of the personalities involved. [His] gripping narratives of the meltdowns at Chernobyl and Fukushima simply scream that fallible humans should not be messing around with this technology … An engaging history that raises provocative questions about the future of nuclear science.
Kirkus (starred review)

“A sweeping panorama of the nuclear age, from Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery of X-rays to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, paying particular attention to the colorful scientists whose brilliance and diligence unlocked the secrets of the atom. … Nelson tells their stories vividly, with a journalist’s eye for symmetry and irony; the science itself is, at times, less central to his narrative than the fusion-reactions of interacting scientists and government officials. Despite truly harrowing descriptions of Chernobyl and Fukushima, as well as a tense account of Cold War nuclear maneuvers, this selection at times sounds a note of disappointment at the world’s emerging squeamishness about the ‘two-faced god’ of nuclear technologies. ‘It is time,’ Nelson suggests, ‘to learn to live with blessed curses.’”

“For most of us, the Atomic Era began with the Manhattan Project and ended with the cessation of the Cold War. For award-winning author Craig Nelson (Rocket Men; The First Heroes), it began with Wilhelm Röntgen’s 1895 discovery of x-rays and sizzled to a radioactive climax in the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdown. His new release The Age of Radiance unfolds the history of an era that both threatened universal apocalypse and promised a plentiful, inexpensive new source of energy. This rich, brisk narrative spotlights the geniuses behind this true revolution, but doesn’t neglect its centrality to issues of war and peace.”
b+n reviews

“As he did with the space program in Rocket Men, in Age of Radiance Craig Nelson has brought an era and an ethos to life. At the same time, he’s performed an even more difficult task: he’s made both the scientific and political complexities of the atomic era comprehensible and transparent.”
Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call