Nukespeak - 30th Anniversary Edition


October 3, 2011

Critically Acclaimed Nukespeak Updated To Include Events Through The Still Unfolding Fukushima Disaster

The 30th anniversary edition of Nukespeak examines critical events of the last three decades and the language used to shape and distort public discourse on nuclear issues.

On October 4, 2011, Sierra Club Books will publish the 30th anniversary edition of Nukespeak: The Selling of Nuclear Technology from the Manhattan Project to Fukushima exclusively in e-book format. First published in 1982 in the wake of the first great nuclear plant accident at Three Mile Island, the original edition, written by Stephen Hilgartner, Richard C. Bell, and Rory O’Connor, examined the turbulent history of the nuclear industry, documenting the extraordinary public relations campaign that developers undertook to sell nuclear technology.

This new edition, updated by original authors Richard C. Bell and Rory O’Connor, brings the book fully up-to-date, exploring the critical events of the last three decades—including the disaster at Chernobyl, the campaign to re-brand nuclear energy as a “clean, green” solution to global warming, and the still unfolding disaster at Japan’s Fukushima power plant. In addition, the authors argue persuasively that a language of euphemism and distraction continues to dominate public debate about nuclear weapons and nuclear power around the world. Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune adds an insightful foreword to the new edition.

In Nukespeak: The Selling of Nuclear Technology from the Manhattan Project to Fukushima, you will find:

• The full text of the 1982 edition, which explored the history of nuclear development up to and just beyond the Three Mile Island accident, as well as four new chapters covering the continuing proliferation of nuclear weapons and the catastrophic accidents at Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011.

• An analysis of the language used to shape and distort political discourse and thinking on nuclear issues, supported by an index of “Nukespeak” words, and a look at how public relations campaigns have influenced the debate.

• Fresh perspectives on the failed economics of nuclear power and the continuing plans for a “nuclear renaissance” in the United States.

• A historical foundation to create arguments and political movements necessary to alter the nuclear mindset.

One of the fundamental arguments the authors make is that the there is no difference between atoms for peace and atoms for war—that the atoms don’t know the difference. In addition to focusing on the problems with nuclear energy and nuclear weapons, Nukespeak examines how the industry has misrepresented its assumptions as facts and employed “information management” (in the form of secrecy, suppression, and propaganda) in shaping public opinion.

For press inquiries and review copies, please contact
Rebecca Silver / Sierra Club
212-791-3600 x284 /

The book can be purchased online at:


Barnes & Noble

About the authors
Richard C. Bell is an author, editor, and political consultant who pioneered the use of online communications and social media in national electoral politics. He served as research director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, new media director at the Democratic National Committee, vice president for communications at the Worldwatch Institute, and blogmaster for John Kerry’s presidential campaign. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Rory O’Connor is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and journalist based in New York. Co-founder and president of the international media firm Globalvision and board chair of The Global Center, an affiliated nonprofit foundation, he is also the author of Shock Jocks: Hate Speech & Talk Radio and the forthcoming The Feed Is My Friend: Social Media, Politics, and Trust.

Stephen Hilgartner co-authored the 1982 edition of Nukespeak with Richard C. Bell and Rory O’Connor. He is now on the faculty of Cornell University and writes on science and society.

Bell, Hilgartner, and O’Connor won the National Council of Teachers of English 1982 George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language for the original edition of Nukespeak. Recent recipients of this award include Michael Pollan, Amy Goodman, Jon Stewart, Seymour Hersh, Arundhati Roy, and Garry Trudeau.