Summer Reading: Fearmongering as Entertainment

In A Field Guide to Radiation (Penguin, $15), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wayne Biddle tells you everything you need (but might not necessarily want) to know about this ubiquitous threat.

Image courtesy of Viking and Penguin Books

In A Field Guide to Radiation (Penguin, $15), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wayne Biddle (author of the cult hit A Field Guide to Germs ) tells you everything you need (but might not necessarily want) to know about this ubiquitous threat.

The 84 paranoia-inducing yet weirdly entertaining essays include such topics as the following:

Air travel: A transatlantic flight can expose you to as much radiation as you receive in a week on the ground.

Cigarettes: Smokers' lungs can contain three times as much polonium-210 (the isotope famously used to assassinate former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko) as those of nonsmokers.

Life on Earth: About 1 percent of the population gets cancer from exposure to seemingly benign objects—brick houses, Brazil nuts—that contain trace amounts of radiation.

A Field Guide to Radiation is in stores July 31.

—Timothy Hodler, research director at Details

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