Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The Missile Next Door by Gretchen Heefner
THE MISSILE NEXT DOOR: The Minuteman in the American Heartland by Gretchen Heefner (Blackstone Audio.) The book chronicles the distribution of intercontinental ballistic missiles across South Dakota, Missouri, Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska during Eisenhower's Cold War era, circa 1961 to 1967, when paranoia ran rampant that Russia would attack at any moment. A rancher named Paul Jensen was one of those selected to allow the Pentagon to bury a missile on his land. He later witnesses its destruction, but half of the 1000 missiles deployed are still out there, requiring billions each year to maintain. And then there were the Atlas and Titan missiles deployed in silos in California, Washington state, Arizona, and Texas. Some of the decommissioned sites are up for sale as homes, possibly for those who wish to escape economic collapse or the Zombie Apocalypse (for those who only read comic books.) Have there been accidents at any of these many sites? There have, according to Eric Schlosser in the scary Command and Control. I've explored an abandoned missile base myself for research on my first novel, Postal, which features a duel in the dark there as the climax. And I also had a short story set in a missile base published in Rider (a motorcycle magazine), which, as far as I know, was the only fiction piece they ever published. The story was produced as a radio drama, the last part of which appears in "low-tech" storyboard style below. Bear in mind that, amazingly, a first generation iPhone has more computer power than the entire missile defense system had...and now these sites are like old dynamite...leaking and still deadly!