Nuclear Firsts is the first book to comprehensively trace the technical evolution of nuclear power development, both in the United States and elsewhere. In all, about 80 facilities and events in more than 10 countries are profiled. Developments in reactor technologies of all types are covered, as well as developments in reprocessing, enrichment, waste disposal, and some non-electric applications of reactors (radioisotope production, district heating, desalination, and neutron beam therapy). The book also covers the first government and private organizations that developed around the nuclear industry.
Author Gail Marcus received the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' prestigious Engineer-Historian Award for 2013 for Nuclear Firsts. The award, given to "outstanding published works by an engineer dealing with the history of mechanical engineering," was established in 1990 and is awarded only when merited.