Making a Real Killing: Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West

Announcing the Publication of

Making a Real Killing

Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West

by Len Ackland

Just as huge nuclear explosions result from small spheres of plutonium, the story of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near Denver, Colorado is much larger than itself. It is about the Church family, who came West seeking gold in 1861, stayed to raise cattle, watched the federal government take a large peace of its land for the weapons plant in 1951—and now is busily developing real estate in the booming suburbs next to the contaminated plant site. It is about the government and private corporations that produced the deadliest devices in history for thirty-seven years, concealed problems behind the wall of national security secrecy, and came close to a Chernobyl-scale disaster during a 1969 fire. It is about plant managers who cut corners to maintain weapons production, workers who saw themselves as loyal Cold War soldiers, and citizen activists who challenged the plants very existence. And it is about a community that profited from thousands of jobs and contacts but now faces long-term environmental and health risks.

Len Ackland, a former Chicago Tribune reporter and former editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, tells the fascinating story of Rocky Flats for the first time in Making a Real Killing. He skillfully weaves together the experiences of individuals with clear explanations of nuclear weapons technology, plutonium and radiation risks, and the bitter fight between government agencies over environmental degradation.

Making a Real Killing examines the way Americans participated in building a nuclear weapons arsenal capable of destroying the human species. To read it is to learn some sobering lessons, including the fact that the democratic process lagged decades behind technological developments.

What people are saying about Making a Killing:

“As Americans reckon with the legacy of the Cold War, Making a Real Killing deserves a place at the center of our attention. Len Ackland’s integrity and hard work remind us how crucial energetic journalism is for a successful democracy.”—Patricia Nelson Limerick

“A riveting story….I couldn’t put it down.”—Charles Rankin, Montana

About the Author:

Len Ackland directs the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is also the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Science and International Security.

Publication and Ordering Information

Available in September, 1999

size: 6x9 296 pages with 16 halftones

Cloth: 0-8263-1877-0 $34.95

To order, contact

Orders Department
University of New Mexico Press
3721 Spirit Drive, SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106-5631

or order by phone by calling 1-800249-7737.

please note: Making a Killing is not available for sale or distribution by ISIS.

Adapted from a order form/flyer printed by UNM Press. Reprinted with permission. ISIS is not associated with UNM Press.