Most helpful critical review
on May 28, 2004
After reading a positive review of "The Radioactive Boy Scout," I bought a copy without first scanning a few pages. Such a blind purchase is against my usual practice, because I have learned how overhyped many new books are. I found the book well-nigh unreadable because it is so poorly written and edited. It reads like breathless pulp fiction and is written at about that level of intellect. It contains numerous grammatical and other writing errors; they made me wince throughout the book. Moreover, the author seems to have had little real information about and even less understanding of the people involved. His analyses of them and the setting of the events are simplistic and cliched: the awfulness of the suburbs, the challenges to children of divorce, that sort of thing. (Do you think that the impressions of your high school teachers would help readers understand you?) The timeline is unintelligible, with a muddle of the concepts and events of more than five decades.
The book is described as having arisen from the idea of a publisher's editor, who contacted the author for an expansion after reading his initial article about the Boy Scout. That probably explains to a great extent why the book is so padded with pat recitations of the history of the nuclear age. I suspect that the review I read was prompted only by the reviewer's politics, which is unprofessional and unfair to readers.
All in all, the product seems to reflect little but laziness. That's a shame because an insightful and careful analysis of the case might have been a good contribution to the literature of the nuclear debate.