Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War / Edition 1

Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War / Edition 1

4.1 11
by Eileen Welsome

ISBN-10: 0385319541

ISBN-13: 2900385319545

Pub. Date: 01/28/1999

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

In a Massachusetts school, seventy-three disabled children were spoon fed radioactive isotopes along with their morning oatmeal....In an upstate New York hospital, an eighteen-year-old woman, believing she was being treated for a pituitary disorder, was injected with plutonium by Manhattan Project doctors....At a Tennessee prenatal clinic, 829 pregnant women were…  See more details below


In a Massachusetts school, seventy-three disabled children were spoon fed radioactive isotopes along with their morning oatmeal....In an upstate New York hospital, an eighteen-year-old woman, believing she was being treated for a pituitary disorder, was injected with plutonium by Manhattan Project doctors....At a Tennessee prenatal clinic, 829 pregnant women were served "vitamin cocktails"--in truth, drinks containing radioactive iron--as part of their prenatal treatmen....

In 1945, the seismic power of atomic energy was already well known to researchers, but the effects of radiation on human beings were not. Fearful that plutonium would cause a cancer epidemic among workers, Manhattan Project doctors embarked on a human experiment that was as chilling as it was closely guarded: the systematic injection of unsuspecting Americans with radioactive plutonium. In this shocking exposé, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Eileen Welsome reveals the unspeakable scientific trials that reduced thousands of American men, women, and even children to nameless specimens with silvery radioactive metal circulating in their veins. Spanning the 1930s to the 1990s, filled with hundreds of newly declassified documents and firsthand interviews, The Plutonium Files traces the behind-the-scenes story of an extraordinary fifty-year cover-up. It illuminates a shadowy chapter in this country's history and gives eloquent voice to the men and women who paid for our atomic energy discoveries with their health--and sometimes their lives.

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Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Plutonium Files will certainly bring to mind that old saying 'truth is stranger than fiction'. And that is an understatement. Eileen Welsome has put together an amazing, readable and understandable account of the scientific research and experimentation with radioactive substances that started in the early 1940s in the United States, continued for decades and came to light only in the 1990s. This is truly an eye-opening book that no informed American citizen can afford to ignore. The impact of the information contained in this book is hard to put into words. You will not want to put it down, and you will not forget it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We would have executed Joseph Mengele at Nuremburg for doing this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent though not so well known book! It details an apsect of American history we as citizens are not held accountable to. There is one man who survived the leukemia epidemic in Woburn,Mass and was raised as an orphan in Massachusetts state care. This man may have been subject to medical experiments, especially while in residential care in Boston, Mass at a private nonprofit organization for emotionally disturbed children (similar to the Fernald school??). At this program the children were required to eat certain things at all times such as milk. When the man was released from the program his records were sanitized and any attempts to procure them resulted in outright hostility on the part of a former government official who worked for the organization.The man was subsequently sent off to a hard labor camp in Massachusetts and his life became a series of ongoing obstacles and harassment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Welsome does a great job of nringing this shocking and disturbing account of human guinea pigs America, which is still probably happening now with experimetns we are not told about. She specifically discusses the Fernald school and how unwanted kids were befriended by MIT researchers and given presents and trips in return for drinking radioactive milkshakes. This was scandalous some years ago and one might wonder if the research at Fernald was later used for things like the first microwave oven introduced by Raytheon. This is frightening in that it shows our government really cannot be trusted to act always in our best interests.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book does a good job of detailing the nature and effects of deceptive medical research practices but how has the research been used? For example, with the Fernald school in Waltham, Mass kids were given radioactive components in their food in return for some good times. Good times to kids that society had thrown away. Is it possible that this radiation research was used to determine the safety of the first microwave ovens for human use? And doesn't it seem that with the introduction of the microwave oven over the past 10 years there has been a meteoric rise in gastrointestinal problems across the population? A possible link between microwaves and disturbance of the gastrointestinal tract? And could some of the research at Fernald show that some of these kids had similar symptoms? Welsome does a great job of bringing forward a disturbing picture of how researchers view their test subjects.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a well researched but disturbing book about how US military personnel and abandoned or retarded children have been used for medical research. This sort of thing also went on with CIA approval under the infamous MK Ultra LSD experiments on military personnel and prison inmates. One chapter deals with the Fernald school in Waltham,Massachusetts where kids were befriended by MIT researchers and given radioactive milk to test the effects of radiation on the human body. It is a sad commentary on how our society views castaway children.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Eileen Welsome¿s 1999 publication, The Plutonium Files: America¿s Secret Medical Experiments in Cold War, tells the story of four decade¿s worth of horror, as scientists, doctors, and spooks turned human beings into guinea pigs. While the government did apologize when the truth was uncovered 40 years later, responsible parties were never blamed and little justice was given to those who suffered. Welsome tries to give these people the attention they deserve in this 592 page book that reads so simply and interestingly, like an eloquent newspaper article. The book goes by fast and anger mounts, as we learn what humans can do to one another, believing in a higher cause. Welsome¿s research on this story about human guinea pigs studied for plutonium radiation, began in 1987, when while working at her new job at the Albuquerque Tribune in New Mexico, she learned about radioactive animals being dumped at nearby waste sites. Her curiosity lead to research where she learned humans had been experimented upon. While human guinea pigs had already been discovered and written about in the news, Welsome continued to gather information about the experiments over the course of a decade, and then some more. In writing this book, Welsome gave names and histories to the individual human guinea pigs that were only recognized by number before, by the scientists that created their names to the news articles that were written about them. The examples listed on the jacket of the book are only a few of the people Welsome brought back to life. This includes Helen Hutchison, a young woman who was fed a radioactive ¿cocktail¿ drink when coming in for a routine checkup at a prenatal clinic, Gordon Shattuck, ¿one of several boys at a state school for the developmentally disabled in Massachusetts who was fed radioactive oatmeal for breakfast.¿ Before Welsome wrote about this, their names were symbols, like ¿CHI-1,¿ the first person the scientists tested on in Chicago, or HP-12, Edd Cade, the first person specifically tested as a result of concerns during the Manhatten Project. By focusing on individuals hurt and the logic used for testing on them, Welsome shares the quiet anger, the intensity of each and every life stolen for what doctors deemed were a ¿greater cause.¿ Cade had been a decently healthy man, with eyes going blind due to cataracts. However, after a bad vehicle accident left him in the hospital, he became the first guinea pig of the 18 injected. The doctors that injected him knew they could do so without arousing suspicion as they could blame necessary injections on his injuries. Doctors simply noted he was a healthy, and therefore, in good condition for desired testing. He was injected with 4.7 micrograms of plutonium - almost five times what scientists at the time felt a body could handle without harm. Scientists also took parts of Cade¿s bones, gums, jawbone and 15 teeth for study, pretending it was necessary for his health. While Welsome focuses her book on the 18 men, women, and children who were injected with plutonium between April 1945 and July 1947 by doctors working for the Manhattan Project, to create the first atomic bomb, she also brings to light the disturbing truths about the thousands of people who had been injected with radiation other than plutonium during the Cold War. It has been discovered that testing was done on humans into the 1970¿s. However, this is only used as more of a side note to emphasize the injustice placed on these 18 individuals, most of who died never knowing how their health was plagued by doctors turning them into guinea pigs without their consent. She draws attention to the cruelty that lead scientists to justify treating humans so poorly. Welsome says, ¿Almost without exception, the subjects were the poor, the powerless, and the sick ¿ the very people who count most on the government to protect them.¿ The moral used was usually patriotism, with scientists believing a few human guineas would be
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't wait as long as I did to read this important book. Every thinking person needs to know what can happen when the apparatchiks get out of control. Secret experiments are done in hospitals. People are lied to and lured into treatments they don't need. Some are killed by the state without trial. And its all for the good of the state, not the people who are 'treated.' Russian, American and allied troops fought World War II to see that these things did not happen ever again. The Nuremberg Trials resulted in the Nuremberg Medical Code. The Code forbids medical experimentation on non-consenting citizens. In today's Russia the kind of activity talked about in Eileen Welsome's book would be outside the pale of what is now considered civilized behavior. So where did all the nefarious activity Ms. Welsome uncovered take place? The United States. Who were the culprits, the Dr. Frankensteins? They were doctors in some of America's most prestigious teaching hospitals. Whose government covered up the scandals for 50 years? Ours. Read this book right now and never let the government lie to us like this again. Our government lied to us, our doctors lied to us, our hospitals lied to us. All three experimented on our fellow citizens. This book tells us to take care. Ms. Welsome's excellent book The Plutonium Files reminds us once again that 'eternal vigilance is the price of liberty (and of good health and longevity it would seem).' She deserves all the accolades she has received and our thanks.