In Command and Control Eric Schlosser tells a history of twentieth-century America’s nuclear program through the deep reporting of a single accident, a fire, that occurred in a Titan II missile silo in Damascus, Arkansas, in 1980. Schlosser’s tale of the broader history can at times be tedious but is never unimportant; his reporting of the accident at the silo can be intense.
Early in the book, however, Schlosser turns to another accident, another fire, which happened at another silo in Arkansas in 1965. That silo was in Searcy, my hometown. Fifty-three workers died in that accident, many of asphyxiation; one of them was a great-uncle, my great-grandfather’s brother William Holden. Below the fold I quote Schlosser at length as he tells the story of that accident.