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Full Body Burden

Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


Both a memoir and a brilliant work of investigative journalism, Full Body Burden is a detailed, shocking account of the government's sustained attempt to conceal the effects of the toxic and radioactive waste released by Rocky Flats, and of local residents' vain search for justice. 

Kristen Iversen grew up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons plant once designated "the most contaminated site in America." Full Body Burden is the story of a childhood and adolescence in the shadow of the Cold War, in a landscape at once startlingly beautiful and--unknown to those who lived there--tainted with invisible yet deadly particles of plutonium. It's also a book about the destructive power of secrets--both family and government. Her father's hidden liquor bottles, the strange cancers in children in the neighborhood, the truth about what was made at Rocky Flats--best not to inquire too deeply into any of it. But as Iversen grew older, she began to ask questions and discovered some disturbing realities.

Based on extensive interviews, FBI and EPA documents, and class-action testimony, this taut, beautifully written book promises to have a very long half-life.

From Publishers Weekly

May 14, 2012 – In this powerful work of research and personal testimony, Iversen (Molly Brown), director of the M.F.A. creative writing program at the University of Memphis. chronicles the story of America s willfully blinkered relationship to the nuclear weapons industry through the haunting experience of her own family in Colorado. Moving to the spanking new subdivision of Denver called Bridledale in 1969, an area hugely expanding due to the growing industries nearby, Iversen s middle-class family of four children, lawyer dad, and homemaker mom believed they had secured the American dream, hardly questioning that Dow Chemical was making anything more than scrubbing bubbles in the top-secret Rocky Flats foundry. Built in the early 1950s by the Atomic Energy Commission to smelt the plutonium triggers for the nuclear bombs necessary to deter the Soviet Union during the cold war, Rocky Flats had already suffered a major plutonium fire in 1957, the extent of radiation damage swiftly covered up, before a similar fire on Mother s Day 1969 proved the worst industrial accident in U.S. history, spreading unknown quantities of radiation in the soil and water and costing $70.7 million to clean up also carefully covered up in the name of national security. Meanwhile, residents began to get sick, especially the children who ran wild over the contaminated land; animals grew sterile; protestors started to arouse concern; and studies were published, culminating in a FBI raid of the facility in 1989. Yet the grief was ongoing, as Iversen renders in her masterly use of the present tense, conveying tremendous suspense and impressive control of her material.

Customer Reviews


A shocking book about government and corporate ineptitude involving the production of our nuclear weapons. As a resident of a community dangerously close to Rocky Flatts, I'm outraged and angry that my local, state and federal government allowed such a disgusting operation to be built, let alone in one of the most beautiful areas of the front range of Colorado.

Furthermore, I'm outraged that residents of the Denver area and Jefferson county are so poorly informed of the danger lurking at Rocky Flatts. People are allowed to fish and boat in Stanley lake. To think this are could be open to the public is a shame. I wonder what risks I've taken riding my bike around the area with no warning.

Any government official that hasn't voted for better signage, cleanup, education and quarantine of this area should be ashamed of themselves. I applaud Kristen Iverson for her efforts to expose he nasty truth about Rocky Flats and I hope the word spreads about what seems to be one of the most toxic and radioactive places in America ... Which is literally in the backyard of so many.

Great read, especially If you live in Jefferson, Boulder or Denver county.

Full Body Burden

Great writing about a tough and scary subject. How sad that Denver and the surrounding area, as well as other U.S. communities have to deal with Nuclear waste.

Full body burden

This is a book we all need to read. Very well written. The story takes you behind the scenes at a nuclear weapons plant during the cold war. It is mind-blowing what was going on so close to a large population center. It is now after the fact. But we all need to realize the huge compromises that were made and why. It is very nicely balanced with the authors' own story of growing up right next to the plant. One of the best non- fiction books to come out this year.

Full Body Burden
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jun 05, 2012
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 432 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings