The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power
Harper Collins Rs. 250 pp 220
As the cacophony around all things 'nuclear' gathers critical mass, what with two summits, a pending Bill and a handful of controversies, first-time author and self-confessed economics geek Saurav Jha makes a bold and refreshingly unpretentious attempt to turn the nuclear energy debate on its head.
Quite simply, the basic premise of the book is that nuclear power is not the monster that it is made out to be, but is safer, (ultimately) cheaper, cleaner and way less moody than those angelic renewables. The language is chatty and engaging and the book is divided into bite-sized chapters, for fussy readers to pick and choose their favorite parts.
With myth-busting sections on all the wonderful stuff that goes into the generation of electricity at a nuclear power plant, to the Indo-US nuclear deal, this is a dummy's guide for all those who might have trouble differentiating between an idiom and an isotope, amid the current nuclear debate. But don't go looking for nuclear-politics-made-easy, for Jha tells you like it is and lets you choose your side of the fence, even as his predisposition towards a nuclear-powered India is palpable from the outset.
Amusingly enough, Homi J Bhabha, keeps popping up in affectionate brackets throughout the book, almost as a much-missed and affable grandfather watching over India's continuing quest for nuclear energy.
All in all, I couldn't help thinking that it would have been rather nice to have Jha's book around at the time I was struggling with the nuclear alphabet almost a decade ago.
Brighter Than a Thousand Sons: Robert Jungk tells the story of the Manhattan Project, the race to build the first atomic bomb and its protagonists.