McKeown certainly has a flair for the dramatic. A pity that when he applies this flair to an 'analysis' of the SL-1 accident he comes across as someone bucking for a movie deal. He plays up every possible innuendo and rumor about the servicemembers who died in the reactor explosion, along with all the gory details he could muster from the reams of technical information available about the incident.
If the story is unknown to most people, it is because most of them have never heard of Idaho, to say nothing of the National Reactor Testing Station (now the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory).
The story of SL-1 can hardly be described as as unknown to anyone in the nuclear industry. A pity he didn't pay a bit more attention to technical accuracy in his descriptions than to the dozens of pet theories about the state of mind of the operators on duty in the control room. SL-1 was an experimental reactor built in the late fifties at Idaho's National Reactor Testing Station. It was a prototype for small, portable reactors the Army hoped could power radar stations along the Distant Early Warning (DEW) radar line along the northern edge of the continent during the Cold War. It and dozens of other reactors were built on the Idaho desert in order to advance the science of reactor design, safety and engineering.
Dozens of technical factors contributed to the accident, but McKeown ignores everything that was learned from the accident, and admits we'll never know the 'real' cause of the incident, implying cover-up and conspiracy. I could swear I heard the 'X-Files' music playing as I finished the book.
If you're after a bit less dramatic version of the accident, try 'Proving the Principle' by Susan Stacy.