Operation CROSSROADS – Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account, Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946

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An Eyewitness Account
Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946

by William McGee with Sandra V. McGee
Foreword by F. Lincoln Grahlfs, Ph.D., author of Voices From Ground Zero
BMC Publications, June 2016
132 pp, 59 B/W photographs & illustrations. Paperback 6″ x 9″, $19.95; Kindle eBook $9.99
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On 1 July 1946, millions of people around the world waited anxiously by their radios for the results of the first postwar atomic bomb tests code-named: Operation CROSSROADS.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary in 2016, William L. McGee has written an eyewitness account of his participation at CROSSROADS and what many scientists considered the most significant event of the twentieth century.

McGee was one of the 42,000 military, scientists, and civilian personnel assembled at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands for the two tests – one from air and the other from underwater. McGee observed the preparations, the rehearsals, the tests, and the aftermaths from aboard the heavy cruiser USS Fall River (CA-131), the Flagship for the Target Fleet at CROSSROADS and responsible for the positioning of the 95 target vessels in the Bikini Lagoon.

An accomplished World War II military historian known for his spare and straightforward writing style, McGee provides a detailed account of Test Able from the air (1 July 1946) and Test Baker from underwater (25 July 1946), and adds to his firsthand account with details from the Fall River ship logs and interviews with Fall River shipmates and other CROSSROADS participants.

McGee includes the excerpted commentary of three esteemed CROSSROADS historians about the all-important later lessons learned about the devastating effects of radiation on man, animal, and ships – that no one saw coming:

– Foreword by Dr. F. Lincoln Grahlfs, a CROSSROADS participant and later Vice Commander of the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV)

Operation Crossroads by Oscar Rosen, Ph.D., a CROSSROADS participant and longtime advocate for atomic veterans

Bikini Witch’s Brew by Jonathan M. Weisgall

Listen to the live radio broadcast from Bikini on Baker Day, 25 July 1946

“I wrote this book to help preserve a part of history few know about today.  The subject is timely.  When I was writing the Preface in April 2016, the Nuclear Security Summit was wrapping up in Washington, D.C., proving that the threat of nuclear warfare is very much in the news today. We have to learn from history – lest we forget.”
– William L. McGee, Author 

Bill McGee is a Lifetime Member of the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV). He and his co-author/wife Sandra live in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. They may be reached at mcgeebmc@aol.com or on their website at www.WilliamMcGeeBooks.com.




Review by PUBLISHERS WEEKLY   October 2016


(Belvedere-Tiburon) THE ARK    July 27, 2016

LST SCUTTLEBUTT  (Magazine of the U.S. LST Assn.)  June 2016

NAAV NEWS (Newsletter of the National Assn. of Atomic Veterans)    2nd Quarter 2016

PRWeb Press Release    June 20, 2016




“Well-written and engaging … The inclusion of material by other writers adds important elements to the story.”
—Giff Johnson, editor, The Marshall Islands Journal and author Nuclear Past, Unclear Future

“Excellent slice of life narrative following the end of WW2 … First, the author’s journey to the East Coast, hoping for a stint in postwar Europe; then serving on the USS Fall River at the atomic bomb tests at Operation CROSSROADS in the Marshall Islands. Well done in terms of day-to-day life and filled with humor and the “hustle” of just getting by. The author’s descriptions of being at  Crossroads put me there. Chapter 7, “Later Lessons Learned”, was a great way to wrap up the book, as well as illustrating to the reader that this terrible legacy still lives on — lest we forget.”
—Brian Cowden, writer/director upcoming documentary Atomic Veterans Speak


“McGee has crafted a narrative that drew me in and would not let me go until I finished the book in one sitting.”
—Dennis R. Blocker II, Pacific War historian for the USS National LCI (Landing Craft, Infantry) Association, and researcher for The Heart of Hell

“The author has documented this historically significant event so succinctly—and made it come alive—that the reader is on deck of the USS Fall River, shielding their eyes, and awaiting the blast of a monster.”
—Marilu Norden, author Unbridled: A Tale of a Divorce Ranch

“Includes a compelling, well-documented exposé of the cover-up after Operation Crossroads.”
—John Houck, Beta reader

“I was so caught up in the story, I may have failed my assignment as an early reader.”
—Michael Olson, author Tales from a Tin Can – USS Dale

“A one of its kind firsthand story … McGee explains what he saw—from the dangers posed by radiation unknown to the men, to the lessons learned after his participation in one of the most important and pivotal events in human history. His experience illustrates that the greatest danger of nuclear warfare lies not in the immediate hellish blast from an atomic bomb, but from the deadly radioactivity lingering in the fallout. What a great educational lesson for us younger generations. Add another great masterpiece to the existing collection from gifted author and historian William McGee.”
—Zach Morris, Editor in Chief, LST Scuttlebutt magazine, and former Editor in Chief, Elsie Item magazine

“An excellent book … I had to sit down and read it the day it arrived.”
—Robert L. Ruyle, Nebraska State Commander, National Association of Atomic Veterans

“The magnitude of Crossroads as seen by the author and his participation in it come alive … As a yachtsman, I particularly enjoyed reading the actual log entries of the USS Fall River (CA-131), the Flagship for the Target Fleet.”
—Mel Owen, Owen Wickersham & Erickson

“This is a concise account of the Bikini atomic bomb tests in 1946 by an eyewitness. He includes his own observations as well as those of his shipmates and the ship’s log. He describes in detail (and with photos) the awesome destructive power of nuclear weapons.  Despite 50 years of discussion and negotiation regarding limiting or eliminating nuclear weapons, there are still thousands in the arsenals of several countries with more to come.  Thank you for your service and thank you for reminding us that nuclear weapons should never be used. I give this book five stars.”
Wyman C. Harris