CODENAME CHEROKEE: An excerpt from THE ATOMIC TIMES: My H-Bomb Year at the Pacific Proving Ground

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CODENAME CHEROKEE  (A 1500 word excerpt from THE ATOMIC TIMES: My H-Bomb Year at the Pacific Proving Ground)

Cherokee was the second of 17 nuclear blasts in the 1956 United States H-bomb test series, Operation Redwing.  Cherokee was typical of what happened in the South Pacific when over 1600 men (including me) became guinea pigs for the Department of Defense.  The unstated motto at the Pentagon was:  Everything that CAN go wrong WILL go wrong.

And it did. Cherokee was a prime example. 

THE ATOMIC TIMES: My H-Bomb Year at the Pacific Proving Ground is available at GooglePlay in an ebook edition. THE ATOMIC TIMES: My H-Bomb Year at the Pacific Proving Ground was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by its original hardcover publisher, Random House.

"THE ATOMIC TIMES is a gripping memoir of the first H-bomb tests by one of the small groups of young servicemen stationed at Ground Zero on Eniwetok Atoll.  Leavened by humor, loyalty and pride of accomplishment, this book is also a tribute to the resilience, courage and patriotism of the American soldier." --Henry Kissinger

Keywords:  memoir, veterans, H-bomb, US Army, army, soldier, military memoir, nuclear bombs, radiation, danger, fission, fusion, fallout, danger, suspense, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, island, South Pacific, Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, detonation, explosions


 

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About the author

Michael Harris’s highly acclaimed memoir, THE ATOMIC TIMES:  My H-Bomb Year at the Pacific Proving Ground, is based on his experiences as an army draftee during Operation Redwing, codename for the 17 U.S. H-Bomb tests in 1956.

Michael began a novel when he was still stationed in the Pacific. It took five decades for many of the Top Secret documents to be declassified and for him to realize he wanted to write a memoir. The result was THE ATOMIC TIMES.

“Catch-22 with radiation!”

“Area 51 meets Dr. Strangelove!”

“A gripping memoir leavened by humor, loyalty and pride of accomplishment. A tribute to the resilience, courage and patriotism of the American soldier.” —Henry Kissinger


After the army, Michael spent many years as a public relations executive at CBS, eleven of them on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” In addition to welcoming the Beatles at the airport on their first trip to the United States, he is the author of ALWAYS ON SUNDAY: An Inside View of Ed Sullivan, the Beatles, Elvis, Sinatra & Ed’s Other Guests, the bestselling biography of Ed Sullivan.

THE ATOMIC TIMES and ALWAYS ON SUNDAY are available in a Boxed Set: 20th Century Memoirs: Face to Face with the Beatles and the Bomb

He is married to New York Times bestselling novelist, Ruth Harris. Together, they co-authored two bestsellers, HOOKED, A Thriller and BRAINWASHED, A Thriller.

 

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Reviews

3.3
6 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Word International
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Published on
May 9, 2014
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Pages
8
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Biography & Autobiography / Military
History / Military / Nuclear Warfare
History / Military / Veterans
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Available on Android devices
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Michael Harris
Catch-22 with radiation.
Area 51 meets Dr. Strangelove.
Except it really happened.

Operation Redwing, the biggest and baddest of America's atmospheric nuclear weapons test regimes, mixed saber rattling with mad science, while overlooking the cataclysmic human, geopolitical and ecological effects. But mostly, it just messed with guys' heads. 

Major Maxwell, who put Safety First, Second and Third. Except when he didn't. 

Berko, the wise-cracking Brooklyn Dodgers fan forced to cope with the H-bomb and his mother's cookies.

Tony, who thought military spit and polish plus uncompromising willpower made him an exception.

Carl Duncan, who clung to his girlfriend's photos and a dangerous secret.

Major Vanish, who did just that.

In THE ATOMIC TIMES, Michael Harris welcomes readers into the U.S. Army's nuclear family where the F-words were Fallout and Fireball. In a distinctive narrative voice, Harris describes his H-bomb year with unforgettable imagery and insight into the ways isolation and isotopes change men for better—and for worse. 

"A gripping memoir leavened by humor, loyalty and pride of accomplishment. A tribute to the resilience, courage and patriotism of the American soldier." —Henry Kissinger

From the author:

Three-eyed fish swimming in the lagoon. Men whose toenails glow in the dark. Operation Redwing where the F words were Fallout and Fireball. In 1956, I was an army draftee sent to the Marshall Islands to watch 17 H-bomb tests. An "observer," the Army called it. In plain English: a human guinea pig.

I knew at the time that the experience could make a fascinating book, and I wrote a novel based on it while I was still there. The problem was that Eniwetok was a security post. There were signs everywhere impressing on us that the work going on (I mopped floors, typed, filed requisitions and wrote movie reviews for the island newspaper “All the news that fits we print”) was Top Secret. “What you do here, what you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here leave it here.”

I was afraid they would confiscate the manuscript if they found it but a buddy who left Eniwetok before I did concealed the pages in his luggage. When he got back to the States, he mailed those pages to my father so I had what turned out to be a very rough draft.

What was wrong with the book? Let me count the ways. I didn’t know how to write action, plot and character. I did know how to leave out everything interesting that was happening around me. Back in the States after my discharge, I thought about writing Version #2 but for ten years, I had nightmares about the H-bomb almost every night. I survived the radiation (unlike some of my friends), but the memories were also a formidable foe. I tried to forget and more or less succeeded.

My perspective gradually changed over the years and I began to remember what I had tried to forget: 
We were told we had to wear high density goggles during the tests to avoid losing our sight but the shipment of goggles never arrived—the requisition was cancelled to make room for new furniture for the colonel's house.
We were told we had to stand with our backs to the blast—again to prevent blindness. But the first H-bomb ever dropped from a plane missed its target, and the detonation took place in front of us and our unprotected eyes.
Servicemen were sent to Ground Zero wearing only shorts and sneakers and worked side by side with scientists dressed in RadSafe suits. The exposed military men developed severe radiation burns and many died.

The big breakthrough came when enough years had passed and I had overcome the anger and the self-pity resulting from the knowledge that I and the men who served with me had been used as guinea pigs in a recklessly dangerous and potentially deadly experiment. At last I had the perspective to understand my nuclear year in its many dimensions and capture the tragedy and the black humor that came along with 17 H-bomb explosions. In addition, certain significant external realities had changed.

Top Secret documents about Operation Redwing had been declassified. I learned new details about the test known as Tewa: the fallout lasted for three days and the radiation levels exceeded 3.9 Roentgens, the MPE (Maximum Permissible Exposure). Three ships were rushed to Eniwetok to evacuate personnel but were ordered back after the military raised the MPE to 7. That, they reasoned, ensured everyone's safety. 

I made contact with other atomic veterans who told me about their own experiences and in some cases sent me copies of letters written to their families during the tests. As we talked, we also laughed: about officers who claimed Eniwetok was a one year paid vacation; about the officer who guarded the political purity of the daily island newspaper by deleting "pinko propaganda," including a speech by President Eisenhower.

By now, Ruth knew the material almost as well as I did and provided crucial perspective and detailed editing expertise.

At last, I was able to pull all the strands together. After 50 years, I was able write the book I had wanted to in the beginning.

Having struggled to write a memoir for so long and having been asked for advice by others contemplating writing a memoir, I can pass along a bit of what I learned along the way.

Make sure you have enough distance from the experience to have perspective on what happened. Exposure to radiation and the resulting reactions—anger, terror, incredulity—produce powerful emotions that take time to process.
Figure out how to use (or keep away) from your own intense feelings. In the case of the H-Bomb tests, anger and self-pity were emotions to stay away from. So was the hope of somehow getting “revenge.”
Sometimes the unexpected works. For me, finding humor in a tragic situation— the abject military incompetence in planning and executing the H-Bomb tests—freed my memory and allowed me to write about horrific experiences.
Figure out (most likely by trial and error) how much or how little of yourself you want to reveal.

Keywords:   memoir, veterans, H-bomb, US Army, army, soldier, military memoir, nuclear bombs, radiation, danger, fission, fusion, fallout, danger, suspense, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, island, South Pacific, Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, detonation, explosions

Michael Harris
In 1956, the United States detonated 17 H-bombs in the South Pacific, including the two deadliest explosions ever to occur anywhere on our planet—before or since. 

The 1,612 soldiers stationed at the headquarters island (including me, a draftee) were there to “observe” this nuclear test series, called Operation Redwing. Wearing only T-shirts and shorts and without any other protective gear, we were exposed to radiation and fallout.

NUKED (19,000 words) focuses on these explosions and describes all 17 tests in detail. THE ATOMIC TIMES (288 pages),  nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by its American hardcover publisher Random House, presents a fuller picture of the traumatic consequences—psychological and sexual—endured by men living in isolation on a remote and deadly island without women.

“THE ATOMIC TIMES is a gripping memoir of the first H-bomb tests by one of the small groups of young servicemen stationed at Ground Zero on Eniwetok Atoll. Leavened by humor, loyalty and pride of accomplishment, this book is also a tribute to the resilience, courage and patriotism of the American soldier.”—Henry Kissinger

NUKED: I Was A Guinea Pig For The U.S. Army is a companion to THE ATOMIC TIMES: My H-Bomb Year at the Pacific Proving Ground, also available in an e-book edition on GooglePlay.

Michael Harris is the co-author of two thrillers, HOOKED and BRAINWASHED, with his wife, million-copy New York Times bestselling author, Ruth Harris. Both books are available in e-editions on GooglePlay.

Keywords: FREE, FREEBIE, memoir, veterans, H-bomb, US Army, army, soldier, military memoir, nuclear bombs, radiation, danger, fission, fusion, fallout, danger, suspense, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, island, South Pacific, Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, detonation, explosions

Michael Harris
Michael Harris
"Brandywine Creek calmly meanders through the Pennsylvania countryside today, but on September 11, 1777, it served as the scenic backdrop for the largest battle of the American Revolution, one that encompassed more troops over more land than any combat fought on American soil until the Civil War. Long overshadowed by the stunning American victory at Saratoga, the complex British campaign that defeated George Washington’s colonial army and led to the capture of the capital city of Philadelphia was one of the most important military events of the war. Michael C. Harris’s impressive Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777, is the first full-length study of this pivotal engagement in many years.


General Sir William Howe launched his campaign in late July 1777, when he loaded his army of 16,500 British and Hessian soldiers aboard a 265-ship armada in New York and set sail. Six difficult weeks later Howe’s expedition landed near Elkton, Maryland, and moved north into Pennsylvania. Washington’s rebel army harassed Howe’s men at several locations including a minor but violent skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge in Delaware on September 3. Another week of hit-and-run tactics followed until Howe was within three miles of Chads’s Ford on Brandywine Creek, behind which Washington had posted his army in strategic blocking positions along a six-mile front. The young colonial capital of Philadelphia was just 25 miles farther east.


Obscured by darkness and a heavy morning fog, General Howe initiated his plan of attack at 5:00 a.m. on September 11, pushing against the American center at Chads’s Ford with part of his army while the bulk of his command swung around Washington’s exposed right flank to deliver his coup de main, destroy the colonials, and march on Philadelphia. Warned of Howe’s flanking attack just in time, American generals turned their divisions to face the threat. The bitter fighting on Birmingham Hill drove the Americans from the field, but their heroic defensive stand saved Washington’s army from destruction and proved that the nascent Continental foot soldiers could stand toe-to-toe with their foe. Although fighting would follow, Philadelphia fell to Howe’s legions on September 26.



Harris’s Brandywine is the first complete study to merge the strategic, political, and tactical history of this complex operation and important set-piece battle into a single compelling account. More than a decade in the making, his sweeping prose relies almost exclusively upon original archival research and his personal knowledge of the terrain. Enhanced with original maps, illustrations, and modern photos, and told largely through the words of those who fought there, Brandywine will take its place as one of the most important military studies of the American Revolution ever written."
Michael Harris
Sedona is well-known as a very spiritual place. It is also known as a congregation ground for crystal crunchers, self-proclaimed visionaries and mystics. There are a few true healers here, but they shun the media and the publicity that others come here to seek. Two of them feel a shift in balance one evening, and know something bad has come to this healing spot.

A father and son serial killer team has stopped by in Sedona on the way north to Canada. With them, they bring all the hate that drives them to keep killing. They have a well-refined method of finding, keeping and finally killing their subjects, and are experts at leaving no trace. They have remained at large as they perform these acts while travelling through seven states.

This story is about the healers, and how they, with the help of a USFS volunteer and his search/rescue dog, Sam find out what has happened and how to make it go away before more killings occur.

Mike and Linda Harris are residents of Sedona, Arizona. They relocated to Sedona in 2003, leaving California for a less-structured and more healthful lifestyle in a peaceful, beautiful place.

Both are graduates of SDSU, and Mike has authored several books under his name on technical subjects, including some which remain in the classified domain. He is from a Business Development background with emphasis on contract electronics for Defense Electronics companies.

Linda has a Business degree, and was most recently a Director of Resident Programs at one of the largest multi-level senior care facilities in Southern California. She has been on television, and is credited for assisting in the establishment of the ethics committee under which many of the senior care facilities operate today. Both, with the assistance of Sam, co-wrote this book.

Both Mike and Linda are active in the Sedona area, volunteering under USFS programs which are dedicated to preservation of the Sedona wildlife preserves and trail systems. These include the Adopt-a-Trail program, Mountain Bike Patrol and Friends of the Forest programs. Sam is included in these efforts, and routinely can be seen walking in the forest with patrollers, trail management personnel and volunteer search and rescue groups.
Michael Harris
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