Book talk

At a time when publishing is in a sharp decline, the publication of nonfiction books on Nevada seems to be booming:

Bombast by Michon Mackedon Years ago, Mackedon got interested in Nevada’s nuclear history when she researched and wrote about the only atomic test that took place outside the Nevada Proving Ground, a 1963 test near Mackedon’s home town of Fallon. She has continued her research and now has a book on a broader topic. She examines the impact of nuclear weaponry and its testing on our culture, environment and economy. Features of towns like Richland, Wash., and Moab, Utah, that embraced atomic technology in their 1950s economies and lived to regret it in their present ecologies are covered. So are manipulation of the language in the service of the atom and facets of our culture and economy that market “Our friend the atom” to this day, as with Nestle’s Nuclear Chocolate and Nuclear Sour Neon Gummi Worms. One of the most prophetic was the crowning of a beauty queen for a 1955 nuclear test code named “Cue.” The queen was named Miss Cue.

Yellow Dirt by Judy Pasternak This title is principally about Arizona, but the issues overlap deep into Nevada’s history. It tells how the U.S. government contaminated the lands and people of the Navajo nation. Large institutional power—in the Atomic Energy Commission (now the U.S. Department of Energy) and the Vanadium Corporation of America were as reckless with the interests of the Navajo as the AEC also was with the interests of Nevadans, Utahans, and residents of states across the nation. The feds convinced themselves national security justified any means. Information the tribe needed to protect itself was withheld. Uranium mining despoiled the territory of the Navajo—its water, its soil, its people. Environmental experts in Las Vegas were kept busy assessing the damage. Birth defects and cancers multiplied, and the federal government avoided taking responsibility.

With Malice Toward One by Clyde Biglieri In 1970s Reno, the community began rebelling against the notion of brothel lord Joe Conforte as a folk hero. A grand jury investigated Conforte-generated corruption, service clubs began rejecting his donations. The two Reno newspapers (now combined into the Reno Gazette-Journal) jumped on the bandwagon and won a Pulitzer Prize by dissing the character it had helped create, but they were casual with some of the facts. The grand jury criticized Reno City Councilmember Clyde Biglieri without indicting him, which is illegal under Nevada law, and the four paragraphs on Biglieri contained information that was incomplete or inaccurate. The newspapers did a poor job of sorting out the issues, and Biglieri ended up tainted by the coverage. He obtained a limited opinion in his favor from the Nevada Ethics Commission, got the four paragraphs expunged by the Nevada Supreme Court, unsuccessfully sued the newspapers, and did a slow burn for years. Now he has laid the whole tale out in print.

Under a Cruel Moon by Janice Oberding From the author of The Haunting of Las Vegas comes this true crime story of a 15-year-old murderer of an Elko constable. Floyd Loveless lost a two-year clemency fight and was executed by Nevada in 1944. Loveless was the youngest known person executed in the state.

All these titles are available at local bookstores.

Oct. 2, two days after this edition comes out, is the deadline to register to vote in November. It can be done at the voter registar’s office, 1001 E. Ninth St., through Saturday.