Almighty by Dan Zak
Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age

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With this thorough examination of the 70-year history of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, longtime Washington Post reporter Dan Zak launches a mission to regain our attention.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

**A Washington Post "Notable Nonfiction Book of 2016"**

ON A TRANQUIL SUMMER NIGHT in July 2012, a trio of peace activists infiltrated the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Nicknamed the “Fort Knox of Uranium,” Y-12 was supposedly one of the most secure sites in the world, a bastion of warhead parts and hundreds of tons of highly enriched uranium—enough to power thousands of nuclear bombs. The three activists—a house painter, a Vietnam War veteran, and an 82-year-old Catholic nun—penetrated the complex’s exterior with alarming ease; their strongest tools were two pairs of bolt cutters and three hammers. Once inside, these pacifists hung protest banners, spray-painted biblical messages, and streaked the walls with human blood. Then they waited to be arrested.

WITH THE BREAK-IN and their symbolic actions, the activists hoped to draw attention to a costly military-industrial complex that stockpiles deadly nukes. But they also triggered a political and legal firestorm of urgent and troubling questions. What if they had been terrorists? Why do the United States and Russia continue to possess enough nuclear weaponry to destroy the world several times over?

IN ALMIGHTY, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER Dan Zak answers these questions by reexamining America’s love-hate relationship to the bomb, from the race to achieve atomic power before the Nazis did to the solemn 70th anniversary of Hiroshima. At a time of concern about proliferation in such nations as Iran and North Korea, the U.S. arsenal is plagued by its own security problems. This life-or-death quandary is unraveled in Zak’s eye-opening account, with a cast that includes the biophysicist who first educated the public on atomic energy, the prophet who predicted the creation of Oak Ridge, the generations of activists propelled into resistance by their faith, and the Washington bureaucrats and diplomats who are trying to keep the world safe. Part historical adventure, part courtroom drama, part moral thriller, Almighty reshapes the accepted narratives surrounding nuclear weapons and shows that our greatest modern-day threat remains a power we discovered long ago.
 

About Dan Zak

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Dan Zak is a feature writer and general assignment reporter based in the Style section of The Washington Post. He has reported from a bathroom of the Vanity Fair Oscar party, a Hurricane Hunter over the Gulf of Mexico, an MRAP in Iraq’s Anbar province, the East Room of the White House, and the gymnasium of the Alexandria jail. He joined the Post in 2005, after stints as an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and as a city-desk reporter and obituary writer at The Buffalo News. He was born and raised in Buffalo, New York.
Author Residence: Washington, D.C.
Author Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.
 
Published July 12, 2016 by Blue Rider Press. 414 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Almighty
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 08 2016

More than anything, though, it’s the moral convictions demonstrated by Zak’s three holy fools that will remain with readers. A scrupulously reported, gracefully told, exquisitely paced debut.

Read Full Review of Almighty: Courage, Resistance... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Kai Bird on Aug 05 2016

Zak’s narrative is a perfectly measured blend of biography, suspense and history. He skillfully uses the small, finite story of the Y-12 protest to explore our national identity as a people whose culture is now intimately connected with things nuclear.

Read Full Review of Almighty: Courage, Resistance... | See more reviews from NY Times

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Marion Winik on Aug 19 2016

With this thorough examination of the 70-year history of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, longtime Washington Post reporter Dan Zak launches a mission to regain our attention.

Read Full Review of Almighty: Courage, Resistance... | See more reviews from Star Tribune

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