Growing up in suburban Detroit, David Hahn was fascinated by science, and his basement experimentsâ€”building homemade fireworks, brewing moonshine, and concocting his own self-tanning lotionâ€”were more ambitious than those of other boys. While working on his Atomic Energy badge for the Boy Scouts, Davidâ€™s obsessive attention turned to nuclear energy. Throwing caution to the wind, he plunged into a new project: building a nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard garden shed.In The Radioactive Boy Scout, veteran journalist Ken Silverstein recreates in brilliant detail the months of Davidâ€™s improbable nuclear quest. Posing as a physics professor, David solicited information on reactor design from the U.S. government and from industry experts. (Ironically, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was his number one source of information.) Scavenging antiques stores and junkyards for old-fashioned smoke detectors and gas lanternsâ€”both of which contain small amounts of radioactive materialâ€”and following blueprints he found in an outdated physics textbook, David cobbled together a crude device that threw off toxic levels of radiation. His unsanctioned and wholly unsupervised project finally sparked an environmental catastrophe that put his townâ€™s forty thousand residents at risk and caused the EPA to shut down his lab and bury it at a radioactive dumpsite in Utah.An outrageous account of ambition and, ultimately, hubris that sits comfortably on the shelf next to such offbeat science books as Driving Mr. Albert and stories of grand capers like Catch Me If You Can, The Radioactive Boy Scout is a real-life adventure with the narrative energy of a first-rate thriller.