"A riveting narrative of the Atomic Age--from x-rays and Marie Curie to the Nevada Test Site and the 2011 meltdown in Japan--written by the prizewinning and bestselling author of Rocket Men. Radiation is a complex and paradoxical concept: staggering amounts of energy flow from seemingly inert rock and that energy is both useful and dangerous. While nuclear energy affects our everyday lives--from nuclear medicine and food irradiation to microwave technology--its invisible rays trigger biological damage, birth defects, and cellular mayhem. Written with a biographer's passion, Craig Nelson unlocks one of the great mysteries of the universe in a work that is both tragic and triumphant. From the end of the nineteenth century through the use of the atomic bomb in World War II to the twenty-first century's confrontation with the dangers of nuclear power, Nelson illuminates a pageant of fascinating historical figures: Enrico Fermi, Marie and Pierre Curie, Albert Einstein, FDR, Robert Oppenheimer, and Ronald Reagan, among others. He reveals many little-known details, including how Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler transformed America from a country that created light bulbs and telephones into one that split atoms; how the most grotesque weapon ever invented could realize Alfred Nobel's lifelong dream of global peace; how emergency workers and low-level utility employees fought to contain a run-amok nuclear reactor, while wondering if they would live or die. Brilliantly fascinating and remarkably accessible, The Age of Radiance traces mankind's complicated and difficult relationship with the dangerous power it discovered and made part of civilization"-- Provided by publisher.