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Atomic Thunder : The Maralinga Story  - Elizabeth Tynan

Atomic Thunder

The Maralinga Story

Paperback Published: 1st September 2016
ISBN: 9781742234281
Number Of Pages: 400

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In September 2016 it will be 60 years since the first British mushroom cloud rose above the plain at Maralinga in South Australia. The atomic weapons test series wreaked havoc on Indigenous communities and turned the land into a radioactive wasteland. 

In 1950 Australian prime minister Robert Menzies blithely agreed to atomic tests that offered no benefit to Australia and relinquished control over them - and left the public completely in the dark. This book reveals the devastating consequences of that decision. After earlier tests at Monte Bello and Emu Field, in 1956 Australia dutifully provided 3200 square kilometres of South Australian desert to the British Government, along with logistics and personnel.

How could a democracy such as Australia host another country's nuclear program in the midst of the Cold War? In this meticulously researched and shocking work, journalist and academic Elizabeth Tynan reveals how Australia allowed itself to be duped. Maralinga was born in secret atomic business, and has continued to be shrouded in mystery decades after the atomic thunder stopped rolling across the South Australian test site.  This book is the most comprehensive account of the whole saga, from the time that the explosive potential of splitting uranium atoms was discovered, to the uncovering of the extensive secrecy around the British tests in Australia many years after the British had departed, leaving an unholy mess behind.

About the Author

Elizabeth Tynan is a science writer and academic at the James Cook University (JCU) Graduate Research School in Queensland, Australia. A former journalist, she completed a PhD on aspects of British nuclear testing in Australia, and is co-author of the book Media and Journalism: New approaches to theory and practice now in its third edition.

Industry Reviews

'Just as witnesses to our A-bomb tests turned their backs on the blasts, Australia turned its back on the memory of one of the most diabolical times in our history. Compulsive reading? Make that compulsory. This is a brilliant book.' -Phillip Adams

With friends like this we need no enemies


Atomic Thunder sets out the largely unknown history of the British Atomic tests in Australia, showing how the nation was misled and used contrary to the best interest of the whole population and especially the aboriginal inhabitants of the test sites. Incompetence, obsessive secrecy and lack of elementary safety awareness led to the permanent contamination of large areas, rendering them dangerous to those who may inadvertently enter the sites. The story shows Prime Minister Menzies as being prepared to act against Australia's best interests in order to promote the interests of Britain, often misleading members of his own government. No benefit accrued to Australia, nor was there any transfer of scientific information from the tests and Australian efforts to clean up the mess left were obstructed by a refusal to provide essential information which would assist in the cleanup.

Sydney, Australia


Recommended reading


A very informative, well-researched and well-written book. Should be compulsory reading for all Australians.

Perth, Western Australia


Possibly the most thorough book yet written on the subject


This book is important on so many levels. In addition to describing the atomic testing it explains both the mindset that allowed them to happen and the attempts to cover up the effects. The Australian Prime Minister put British interests above those of his own country and allowed the tests to proceed. It was only through the work of science journalists that this chapter of our history was uncovered, and Dr Tynan helps to round out the story with this incredibly researched book.

Queensland, Australia


Good read about an important part of Australian history


Enjoyed this book - plenty of well researched information about a dark part of Australian history that has been covered up for far too long

Mirboo Nth



4.3 4


ISBN: 9781742234281
ISBN-10: 1742234283
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 1st September 2016
Publisher: NewSouth Publishing
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.52

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