Full Body Burden is a haunting work of narrative nonfiction about a young woman growing up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear-weapons plant once designated "the most contaminated site in America." It's the story of growing up 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 secrets and government secrets. Her father's hidden liquor bottles, the strange cancers in children in the neighborhood, the truth about what they made at Rocky Flats (cleaning supplies, her mother guessed)--best not to inquire too deeply into any of it. But as Iversen grew older, she began to ask questions. In her early thirties, she even worked at Rocky Flats for a time, typing up memos in which accidents were always called "incidents." And as this memoir unfolds, it reveals itself as a brilliant work of investigative journalism--a 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 attempts to seek justice in court. 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.
- Biography + Autobiography
- June 5, 2012
- June 5, 2012
- Kristen Iversen