One of the best history books I’ve ever read is The History of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. I say that as a flat out fact. The story of the development of the ultimate weapon of mass destruction is one of the most fascinating tales of genius, intrigue, politics, war and personality ever written. Whenever I get a chance to pick up an article or visit a place associated with the atomic bomb, I do so.
And so it came as a pleasant surprise to the this piece in the Wall Street journal about the Atomic Testing Museum, which lies not far from the Las Vegas Strip. It is a place that both celebrates and ruminates over the difficult, but deeply intriguing history of nuclear testing in the United States. The 8,000-square-foot museum opened in March of 2005, and is the work of the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation. It sounds cool and kitschy, if such a thing can be said about a place that celebrates a technology that could wipe life off the planet. The ticket booth resembles the site’s guard station; the movie theater looks like a bunker. “Countdown to next show,” flashes an ominous red clock. A roar and a blast of air greet visitors in the concrete theater simulating, one would guess, the shock wave of a blast rather than the guest’s chair at the Bill O’Reilly show. Ha ha. The museum sketches the history of the nuclear age, which started with the first atomic bomb test in the New Mexico desert in 1945.