We Almost Lost Detroit

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We Almost Lost Detroit
We Almost Lost Detroit.jpg
First edition
AuthorJohn G. Fuller
SubjectNuclear power plants
PublisherReader's Digest Press
Publication date
LC ClassTK1344.M5

We Almost Lost Detroit, a 1975 Reader's Digest book by John G. Fuller,[1] presents a history of Fermi 1, America's first commercial breeder reactor, with emphasis on the 1966 partial nuclear meltdown.[2][3]

It took four years for the reactor to be repaired, and then performance was poor. In 1972, the reactor core was dismantled and the reactor was decommissioned. America's first effort at operating a full-scale breeder had failed.[2]


Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists felt it was "a significant book and it is well worth reading." They felt it explained how the accident happened but not why.[4] Kirkus Reviews called it "the heaviest broadside against the Atomic Energy Commission in years".[5]

Cultural impact[edit]

Spoken word and rap pioneer Gil Scott-Heron has a song titled "We Almost Lost Detroit",[6] dealing with the same issue. It has appeared on his 1977 album, Bridges. The song is covered by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. on their album It's a Corporate World.

This song was also covered by Ron Holloway on his album, Groove Update, which features Gil Scott-Heron on vocals.[7]

Scott-Heron’s song, in turn, provides the reference to the 2020 documentary We Almost Lost Bochum about the hip hop group RAG from Bochum in western Germany.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fuller, John Grant (1975). We almost lost Detroit. Reader's Digest Press. pp. 248-261. ISBN 0883490706. LCCN 75017870.
  2. ^ a b Clarfield, Gerard H.; Wiecek, William M. (1984). Nuclear America: Military and Civilian Nuclear Power in the United States, 1940-1980. Harper & Row. p. 469. ISBN 9780060153366.
  3. ^ Patterson, Walter C (1976). Nuclear Power (PDF). Penguin Books. pp. 185–186.
  4. ^ "We Almost Lost Detroit (Book Review)". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: 48. Nov 1975. ISSN 0096-3402.
  5. ^ "Kirkus Review: We Almost Lost Detroit". Kirkus Reviews. 1975-10-13. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  6. ^ Gil Scott-Heron: We Almost Lost Detroit on YouTube (March 14, 1990 in London, UK)
  7. ^ "The Ron Holloway Band: Music". Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  8. ^ "We Almost Lost Bochum - Films - home". www.german-documentaries.de. Retrieved 2020-11-09.

Further reading[edit]