Usually you can shrug off anti-nuclear books as rehashing of misinformation and with a title like this you'd expect more of the same. But this one is actually written seriously so it deserves a serious review. Too bad about the title.
The authors have written the chapters to dispel what they call myths, as follows:
Myth 1: Nuclear Energy is the Energy of the Future
The authors point out that nuclear energy is making no headway against fossil fuels. They may well be right: with coal production getting cheaper because of mountaintop removal and gas and oil getting cheaper because of fracking, all of the clean-energy sources are facing cost challenges and require big subsidies, even bigger than the subsidies going to fossil fuels. Fossil fuels probably are the energy of the future.
Myth 2: Nuclear Power is Green.
This chapter is puzzling. The authors cite the arguments pronuclear environmentalists make that show nuclear energy is green and never refute them. They list some of the environmental harms done by renewable energy sources. Here's a direct quote: "The bottom line is that 99 percent of energy in the United States (for example) is provided by sources other than wind and solar, and that is not likely to change anytime soon." The end of the chapter mentions polar bears, ending in this: "But in fact there is only one thing even purer than driven snow, and that is the gleaming, glowing heart of the atomic reactor. No wonder so many modern environmentalists have fallen in love with it." This chapter may need a re-write.
Myth 3: Nuclear Reactors are Reliable and Safe.
This is pretty standard fare. The authors list some accidents that had localized effects, which they never compare with anything else, not coal-mine accidents, wind-turbine fatalities, oil-refinery fires, or even accidental deaths connected to solar panels. They pay a lot of attention to Chernobyl, omitting the pertinent fact that the reactor there was a Soviet monstrosity with no safety features, not even a containment. Their information comes from politicians and journalists, not scientists.
Myth 4: Nuclear Energy is "Too Cheap to Meter"
Chapter 4 is the most disappointing. Even the title is a lie. No one ever made that claim, but anti-nukes have made it their favorite slogan. The original statement came from an AEC chairman before there was nuclear energy, and he was referring to energy in general, not nuclear fission. He worked in fusion, and there is a suggestion that he was referring to that, but he was never asked. The content of the chapter recounts economic hindrances to nuclear energy without concerning the reader over the same economic barriers that every business in the world has faced during the recession, compounded by stiff price hikes in materials due to China's industrialization. They leave out entirely the useful information that nuclear energy produces the second-cheapest electricity there is, the cheapest being hydro.
Myth 5: Nuclear Power Trumps Geopolitics
To be honest, I didn't understand this chapter. I've never heard anyone claim that nuclear power trumps geopolitics. The authors seem to believe there is a uranium shortage, even though uranium mines around the world are boarded up or are running part shifts. Actually, there is a surplus due to the conversion of Soviet warheads into fuel. Somehow, the authors have flipped that around, contending that burning up warheads is a rescue to cover over a uranium shortage. Then they talk about bombs, without showing any connection with commercial reactors. Maybe they just had some leftover material and wanted to use it somewhere.
Myth 6: Nuclear Energy is Very Clean
Well, nuclear energy is very clean if you compare it to something else: fossil fuels, solar panels, wind turbines, meat-packing plants, motorcycle factories, just about anything. If you compare it to nothing, then sure enough it's dirty. It's not acceptable that spent fuel is piling up at reactors, and neither is it reasonable: the world has had the technology for processing spent fuel for sixty years and, for the US and the other major nuclear users, the money is already in the bank to pay for it. This chapter would have more value if the authors had discussed the political groups that fight reprocessing and then complain it's not being done.
Myth 7: Nuclear Radiation is Harmless
The authors never tell us who makes this claim. What health scientists have always said is that it takes a lot of radiation to cause harm. In this chapter, we learn that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) are shills for the nuclear industry. Who then should we trust? Political screeds from New Scientist Magazine and uncorroborated opinions of individual Ukrainian doctors. It's an old story: if the experts don't tell you what you want to hear, ask someone else.
Myth 8: Everyone Wants to Invest in Nuclear Energy
This chapter covers much of the same ground as Chapter 4, and doesn't help us much. The authors complain that nuclear energy gets a lot of subsidies. They mention, without over-emphasizing, that renewables and fossil fuels also get a lot of subsidies. One would suppose that wind and solar farms have investors lined up without incentives because they aren't mentioned, while nuclear projects require oversight from governments. News reports tell a different story. If the authors mapped out a comprehensive energy plan it would have made this book worthwhile, notwithstanding its many other weaknesses.
In closing, the authors recommend using less energy. That's just as profound as the rest of the book. Beyond that, they have no suggestions for lowering CO2 emissions to avert a global disaster. I'm rating the book 2 stars because I save 1 star for genuinely wretched books. This isn't genuinely wretched.