She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters, and reported the following:
The premise of Plutopia is that the Soviet and American nuclear weapons facilities, though designed to destroy one another, rotated around each other on a common axis. The plutonium plants and cities built alongside them developed in tandem during the Cold War as spies and planners from each country closely watched developments in the other. Page 99 illustrates that connection. It depicts Lavrentii Beria, often described as Stalin’s henchman, but here serving as the efficient and commanding shadow minister of the secret Soviet bomb project. Beria is making a first inspection tour of the plutonium plant site in the remote forests of the southern Russian Urals. Beria’s cement-lined Cadillac has already gotten stuck on the muddy log road into the site and he is not impressed with anything else he sees. At the time, the slow pace of construction of the plutonium plant was braking the whole Soviet Manhattan Project, and Beria had come to speed it up. What he finds sends him into a fury. Not only is the plant nothing more than a swampy pit in the ground, but most of the construction workers were Gulag prisoners, hungry, dressed in rags, and sure, Beria suspected, to give away the secret of the Soviet bomb.Learn more about Plutopia at the Oxford University Press website.