Longing for the Bomb traces the unusual story of the first atomic city and the emergence of American nuclear culture. Tucked into the folds of Appalachia and kept off all commercial maps, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was created for the Manhattan Project by the U.S. government in the 1940s. Its workers labored at a breakneck pace, most aware only that their jobs were helping "the war effort." The city has experienced the entire lifespan of the Atomic Age, from the fevered wartime enrichment of the uranium that fueled Little Boy, through a brief period of atomic utopianism after World War II when it began to brand itself as "The Atomic City," to the anxieties of the Cold War, to the contradictory contemporary period of nuclear unease and atomic nostalgia. Oak Ridge's story deepens our understanding of the complex relationship between America and its bombs.

Blending historiography and ethnography, Lindsey Freeman shows how a once-secret city is visibly caught in an uncertain present, no longer what it was historically yet still clinging to the hope of a nuclear future. It is a place where history, memory, and myth compete and conspire to tell the story of America's atomic past and to explain the nuclear present.

"Archival and personal, theoretically astute, Freeman's book brings into view a history from below--from atomic utopianism to atomic nostalgia--where the dawn of the atomic age was materialized in a landscape and a community, and its contemporary ruins provoke a crisis of remembrance. This is a remarkable contribution to nuclear scholarship."--Peter C. van Wyck, Concordia University

Published by UNC Press

Read an excerpt in American Scientist

On the Radio

"Longing for the Bomb: Oak Ridge's Quest to Understand Its Past" by Brandon Hollingsworth on WUOT, Knoxville

 "Hiroshima: Two Narratives" on World Have Your Say, BBC


Russell B. Olwell in Journal of Southern History

Patrick Vitale, "Oak Rigidness" in Southern Spaces

Mary Jacobs Gould in Memory Studies

Timothy Barney , "A Grandchild of the Bomb" in Public Seminar

 Aram Goudsouzian, "Utopia, Nostalgia, and the Bomb" in Chapter 16

D. Ray Smith in The Oak Ridger

Highly Recommended by Duncan Jamieson in Choice

Luna Kelondra for the Tennessee  Library Association

Sarah Siff on H-War

Locate Longing for the Bomb in a library through WorldCat

Purchase through UNC Press or wherever you order your books online.