As the number of people who have actually witnessed an atomic bomb detonation decreases, Jeremy Bernstein records his own experiences at the NYRblog.
What I saw defies description. The photograph above gives some sense but not of the scale. At first there was no noise. Then came the shock wave that made a disagreeable click in my ears and finally the rolling thunder of the noise. The Joshua trees were aflame as if in some obscene pagan rite. The bomb had evaporated the tower. The fire ball rose and above it was a dark and very menacing radioactive column. It seemed to come towards us and I wondered if we should seek shelter. Above it was the mushroom cloud. We were all very silent when we returned to our bunkhouse for a little more sleep.