Sheltering society: civil defense in the United States, 1945-1963

Date

1999-08

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Publisher

Texas Tech University

Abstract

In the 1990s, as in the 1950s and 1960s, nuclear weapons captured headlines. At the end of the decade, India and Pakistan engaged in a regional arms race that featured a number of underground detonations. In the spring of 1999, intelligence sources learned that the Chinese had been stealing nuclear secrets from the United States. And, throughout the Nineties, military theorists warned that the crumbling of the Soviet Empire, the economic difficulties of the Russian Republic, and the resultant sale of military hardware ensured that it was only a matter of time before a terrorist organization acquired a warhead and threatened the world with nuclear blackmail. Most Americans did not rush out to purchase bomb shelters at the end of the millennium or at midcentury. The apparent lack of concern for civilian preparedness measures during a nuclear era raises questions about the value of civil defense strategies, and the government and popular response to preparedness initiatives. In 1999, a few studies on civilian defense existed, but a new and more complete reassessment of American civil defense was needed.

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