“Intimate…Powerful…A potent examination of the dangers of secrecy…A serious and alarming book [that] has its share of charming moments.” Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Gripping…exquisitely researched…A superbly crafted tale of Cold War America’s dark underside.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“In this powerful work of research and personal testimony, Iversen chronicles the story of America’s willfully blinkered relationship to the nuclear weapons industry through the haunting experience of her own family in Colorado…The grief was ongoing, as Iversen renders in her masterly use of the present tense, conveying tremendous suspense and impressive control of her material.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Iversen seems to have been destined to write this shocking and infuriating story of a glorious land and a trusting citizenry poisoned by Cold War militarism and ‘hot’ contamination, secrets and lies, greed and denial….News stories come and go. It takes a book of this exceptional caliber to focus our attention and marshal our collective commitment to preventing future nuclear horrors.” —Booklist (starred review)

“What makes this book so powerful is not only this persistent revealing of the truth, but also Iversen’s ability to shift gears from the journalistic and factual to the aesthetic and metaphorical.”Brevity Magazine

“The fight over Rocky Flats was and is a paradigmatic American battle, of corporate and government power set against the bravery and anger of normal people. This is a powerful and beautiful account, of great use to all of us who will fight the battles that lie ahead.” Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Falter

“Full Body Burden is one of the most important stories of the nuclear era—as personal and powerful as Silkwood, told with the suspense and narrative drive of The Hot Zone. With unflinching honesty, Kristen Iversen has written an intimate and deeply human memoir that shows why we should all be concerned about nuclear safety, and the dangers of ignoring science in the name of national security. Rocky Flats needs to be part of the same nuclear discussion as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. So does Full Body Burden. It’s an essential and unforgettable book that should be talked about in schools and book clubs, online and in the White House. –Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“This terrifyingly brilliant book – as perfectly crafted and meticulously assembled as the nuclear bomb triggers that lie at its core – is a savage indictment of the American strategic weapons industry, both haunting in its power, and yet wonderfully, charmingly human as a memoir of growing up in the Atomic Age.” –Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman and Atlantic

“Iversen’s compelling prose draws the reader through both narratives and leaves the feeling that Full Body Burden is an important contribution to both nuclear literature and memoir.”Orion Magazine

Full Body Burden is one of those rare, life-changing works whose quiet, insistent moral authority commands us to read on and to remember.” — The Telegraph

Full Body Burden will get you thinking about the way society and technology interact.” — Boingboing

“With meticulous reporting and a clear eye for details, Iversen has crafted a chilling, brilliantly written cautionary tale about the dangers of blind trust. Through interviews, sifting through thousands of records (some remain sealed) and even a stint as a Rocky Flats receptionist, she uncovers decades of governmental deception. Full Body Burden is both an engrossing memoir and a powerful piece of investigative journalism.” — Bookpage

Her writing mixes the lyrical and the logical. This is a real coming-of-age-in-nuclear-America story . . . Iversen’s tale joins the growing ranks of what might be termed “environmental memoir,” a genre popularized by a cadre of women directly indebted to Rachel Carson: Terry Tempest Williams (Refuge), Sandra Steingraber (Living Downstream), Nancy Nichols (Lake Effect), and Nancy Langston (Toxic Bodies). — OnEarth: A Survival Guide for the Planet

“Beautifully fuses Iversen’s personal saga of maturation with the profoundly shocking history of the Rocky Flats site that few bothered to inform themselves about . . . Iversen writes her 50-year account in the present tense, a choice that lends her narrative a crackling immediacy. She writes with an eloquent precision . . . The result is fiercely non-polemical, nuanced and ultimately fully convincing. Iversen’s account of two fires at the plant separated by 30 years, one of which nearly went critical, sears with first-person, real-time immediacy…Resonates with deep personal honesty . . . When she writes about the historical actors outside her personal orbit it is with a clarity of purpose and an economy of motion . . . Iversen has left us a beautiful memoir that recognizes the inevitable intrusion of greater social forces in all our lives and the risk we take in ignoring them.”–Denver Post

“Iversen’s carefully pruned memoir layers the story of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Colorado, a cold-war darling that made plutonium triggers, over her life in its ‘nuclear shadow.’ Her greatest feat, beyond her clear exposition of decades of scientific mismanagement, is to explain our capacity to ignore what seems too deeply embedded to fix.” —Portland Mercury

“What a surprise! You don’t expect such (unobtrusively) beautiful writing in a book about nuclear weapons, nor such captivating storytelling. Plus the facts are solid and the science told in colloquial but never dumbed-down terms. If I could afford them, I’d want the movie rights. Having read scores of nuclear books, I venture a large claim: Kristen Iversen’s Full Body Burden may be a classic of nuclear literature, filling a gap we didn’t know existed among Hersey’s Hiroshima, Burdick and Wheeler’s Fail-Safe and Kohn’s Who Killed Karen Silkwood?
–Mark Hertsgaard, author of Nuclear Inc. and HOT

“Kristen Iversen has written a hauntingly beautiful memoir that is also a devastating investigation into the human costs of building and living with the atomic bomb. Poignant and gracefully written, Iversen shows us what it meant to come of age next door to Rocky Flats—America’s plutonium bomb factory. The story is at once terrifying and outrageous.”
–Kai Bird, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

“A subject as grippingly immediate as today’s headlines. . . Kristen Iversen’s prose is clean and clear and lovely, and her story is deeply involving and full of insight and knowledge; it begins in innocence, and moves through catastrophes; it is unflinching and brave, an expose about ignorance and denial and the cost of government excess, and an intensely personal portrait of a family.” –Richard Bausch, author of Peace and Something Is Out There: Stories

“Kristen Iversen’s ingenious fusion of these two tales: her family’s ongoing denial of her father’s alcoholism with one of the most successful cover-ups in the history of the U.S. military machine, increases the half life of her story’s power to affect our lives exponentially. More than the sum of its well-made and riveting parts, Full Body Burden asks us to take a fresh look at our complicity in the lies we’ve been told, as well as the ones we are telling. As a Coloradoan, as a U.S. citizen, I can’t imagine a more effective lifting of the shroud of Rocky Flats.” –Pam Houston, author of Deep Creek and Cowboys Are My Weakness

Full Body Burden has all the elements of a classic horror tale: the charming nuclear family cruising innocently above the undercurrents of nuclear nightmare. But it’s true and all the more chilling. Kristen Iversen has lived this life and is an authority on the culture of secrecy that has prevented the nation from knowing the truth about radioactive contamination.” –Bobbie Ann Mason, author of The Girl in the Blue Beret and Shiloh and Other Stories

“This wonderfully human, deeply engaging and rigorously researched memoir is both a great book and one of the most important books you will ever read. Loving, profound, necessary, beautiful, its message is essential to our happiness and our survival.” — Rikki Ducornet, author of Netsuke and The Fan Maker’s Inquisition

“Part memoir, part investigative journalism, FULL BODY BURDEN is a tale that will haunt your dreams. It’s a story of secrecy, deceit, and betrayal set in the majestic high plains of Colorado. Kristen Iversen takes us behind her family’s closed doors and beyond the security fences and the armed guards at Rocky Flats. She’s as honest and restrained in her portrait of a family in crisis as she is in documenting the incomprehensible betrayal of citizens by their government, in exposing the harrowing disregard for public safety exhibited by the technocrats in charge of a top-secret nuclear weapons facility. For decades the question asked by residents living downwind of the plant was “Would my government deliberately put my life and the lives of my children in danger?” The simple and irrefutable answer was “Yes, it would . . . in a Colorado minute.” –John Dufresne, author of Louisiana Power & Light