Nuclear power historical debate mostly isn’t debate at all

“What’s your book about?” I’m asked. “The history of nuclear power reactors,” I answer, or at least I used to answer. These days I might not even admit to being a writer.

I enjoy debating the history I explore but the trouble is, nearly everyone ignores the word “history” and responds in one of two ways. Pro-nuclear advocates clamour for this technology as climate change solution. Antinuclear folks: “what about the waste?” Simplistically, it can seem that society is split 50:50 between pro and anti, and neither has any interest in what happened in the past, only in asserting a political view.

But at a deeper level, my experience goes to the heart of the book. Why is society polarised by an energy technology? Why are views so fanatical? Why is nuclear electricity so special? Do I know the answer yet?