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At the height of the Cold War, the United States Army secretly began work on a base embedded deep in the Greenland ice cap, Camp Century. Officially defined as a scientific research station, this facility had an undisclosed purpose: to aim up to 600 nuclear warheads, buried in the ice, at the Soviet Union. In 1966, just six years after the camp was established, the United States gave up this provocative strategy and abandoned the base. Despite its brief life, Camp Century has been the cause of controversies from diplomatic relations between the United States and its Arctic allies, Denmark and Greenland, to the risks of radioactive waste abandoned at the site.
This book is the first comprehensive account of the U.S. Army’s “city under the ice.” Beginning with the Truman administration’s vision of military superiority in the Arctic and continuing through present-day concerns over the effects of climate change, Kristian H. Nielsen and Henry Nielsen unravel the extraordinary history of this clandestine installation. Drawing on sources including top-secret memos and never-before-seen photographic evidence, they follow the intertwining threads of high-level politics, ice-core research, media representations, daily life beneath the ice, and the specter of long-buried environmental problems that will one day resurface. Camp Century reveals a hidden chapter of Cold War history—and why, as the Greenland ice cap slowly melts, this story is not yet over.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristian H. Nielsen is associate professor at the Center for Science Studies at Aarhus University. He is coeditor of Scientists and Scholars in the Field: Studies in the History of Fieldwork and Expeditions (2012)
Henry Nielsen is associate professor emeritus at the Center for Science Studies at Aarhus University. He is coeditor of Neighbouring Nobel: The History of Thirteen Danish Nobel Prizes (2001) and, with Kristian H. Nielsen among others, coauthor of Science in Denmark: A Thousand-Year History (2008).
"Though it only existed from 1959-1966, Camp Century remains a living—and deeply compelling—story today. Its history sweeps across Cold War intrigue to nuclear missiles hidden under ice; from the Arctic’s defeat of nuclear-powered techno-hubris to ice cores at the heart of climate science; and from Danish and American politics to the (now) semi-independent Greenlanders who must live with Camp Century’s legacy as the melting ice reveals its radioactive remains. This lively and intelligent book, beautifully translated from the Danish, gives Camp Century its first full accounting in English."
--Paul N. Edwards, author of A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming