The Myths of August

by Stewart L. Udall. Pantheon/Cornelia & Michael Bessie, 416 pages, $25.00.
There have been other reports on the damage done to American civilians by atomic-weapons tests, but none more thorough and ultimately infuriating than Mr. Udall’s analysis of the irresponsible arrogance and calculated deceit practiced by the Atomic Energy Commission and the military during what he calls “Our Tragic Cold War Affair With the Atom.” The deaths and illnesses—some of which could have been prevented by the dissemination of correct information— emerge as the practical aspect of what amounted to an abandonment of civilized ethics, a deliberate betrayal of citizens by the authorities assigned to protect them. The text is dense and sometimes rambles, but it should, however painfully, be read.