On August 9, 1965, 53 men died in the impoverished hills of rural Arkansas. Their final breaths came in a government facility deep underground while their loved ones were at home expecting their return. The incident at Launch Complex 373-4 remains the deadliest accident to occur in a U.S. nuclear facility. The 53: Rituals, Grief, and a Titan II Missile Disaster analyzes the event. It looks at causes but more importantly at how the mishap has affected daughters and sons for nearly six decades. It gives new sociological insight on technological disasters and the sorrow following them. The book also details how surviving family members managed themselves and each other while benefiting from the support of friends and strangers. It describes how institutions blame the powerless, and how powerful organizations generate distrust and secondary trauma. With an analysis of the event and post-disaster life, their children share stories on what went wrong and how they keep moving forward.
Jason Ulsperger is professor of sociology at Arkansas Tech University.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Meet the Titans
Chapter Two: The Titan II
Chapter Three: Sociology of Ritual
Chapter Four: Sociology of Disaster
Chapter Five: Sociology of Sorrow
Chapter Six: Research Approach
Chapter Seven: Disruption
Chapter Eight: Deritualization
Chapter Nine: Reritualization
Chapter Ten: Remembering the Titans
Interesting and informative reporting, research, and analysis concerning the impact on individuals and families of a Cold War industrial disaster that killed 53 workers.
The 53 brings to light a story from the back pages of the Cold War arms race in which 53 men perished in an accident at a Titan II missile facility near Searcy, Arkansas. As the book describes, this event was a combination of sociotechnical weaknesses and failures, poorly-followed safety regulations, and human error—hallmarks of technological hazards and disasters. Professor Ulsperger provides an innovative application of structural ritualization theory (SRT) to examine how family members of the victims experienced disruption, grief, and recovery related to this tragic event. The book provides the best application of SRT to a disaster that currently exists, making significant advancements to both SRT and disaster studies.