In feudal times, society was viewed as being made up of three estates, a “trinity,” functioning under the king's beneficence: the Lords Spiritual, the Lords Temporal and the Peasants. For all of its modern aspirations, Stalin's Soviet society of the 1940s and '50s was, in fact, feudal. Certainly that was true of the nuclear community. The respect reserved for the clergy in feudal times went to the security services. The nuclear nobility, the designers, lived well and were accorded full honors. And then there were those who did the tough and dirty work, the peasants. Some were recent graduates in chemistry or physics; no one was concerned by the serious overdoses of radiation that many received. Others were engineers, pursuing one blind alley after another with no time for the ordered exploration of alternatives. Still others were prisoners and soldiers, building the foundations and infrastructure that supported the program. They all were “peasants” in this scheme of things.

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