ISBN: 978-1-5179-0783-9

Christoph Laucht

Swansea University

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At a time when the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that ended the 1980s Euromissile crisis no longer exists and the world commemorates the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Gabriele Schwab's thought-provoking book makes a timely contribution to the on-going nuclear debate. Alluding in its title to the legacies of the Manhattan Project, Radioactive Ghosts explores this theme through a set of different 'nuclear subjectivities.' At the center lies the concept of 'nuclear necropolitics' that draws inspiration from the work of Achille Mbembe and Jacques Derrida. After the author has outlined her central concept in a comprehensive introductory section, eight main chapters follow that are organized into two parts – 'Nuclear Subjectivities' and 'Haunting from the Future.' The two are separated by an 'Interlude' co-authored with New Mexican poet Simon J. Ortiz. A 'Coda' concludes the book. The four chapters in the first part establish the wider intellectual framework of this legacy of the Manhattan Project and its entanglement with gender, race and colonialism. The chapters on 'Nuclear Colonialism' and 'Critical Nuclear Race Theory' are particularly noteworthy, as they focus on previously underrepresented fields of investigation. The four chapters in the second part address specific case studies or 'readings' of literary texts by writers like Ray Bradbury and Jorge Luis Borges, oral testimony from survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the reactor accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima or documentary films like Michael Madsen's Into Eternity. While Radioactive Ghosts is not always an easy read because of its dense theoretical prose, Schwab certainly manages to make her readers acutely aware of the relevance of the legacies of the Manhattan Project in the early twenty-first century.