One Nation Underground: The Fallout Shelter in American Culture

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NYU Press, 2004 - History - 324 pages
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For the half-century duration of the Cold War, the fallout shelter was a curiously American preoccupation. Triggered in 1961 by a hawkish speech by John F. Kennedy, the fallout shelter controversy—"to dig or not to dig," as Business Week put it at the time—forced many Americans to grapple with deeply disturbing dilemmas that went to the very heart of their self-image about what it meant to be an American, an upstanding citizen, and a moral human being.

Given the much-touted nuclear threat throughout the 1960s and the fact that 4 out of 5 Americans expressed a preference for nuclear war over living under communism, what's perhaps most striking is how few American actually built backyard shelters. Tracing the ways in which the fallout shelter became an icon of popular culture, Kenneth D. Rose also investigates the troubling issues the shelters raised: Would a post-war world even be worth living in? Would shelter construction send the Soviets a message of national resolve, or rather encourage political and military leaders to think in terms of a "winnable" war?

Investigating the role of schools, television, government bureaucracies, civil defense, and literature, and rich in fascinating detail—including a detailed tour of the vast fallout shelter in Greenbriar, Virginia, built to harbor the entire United States Congress in the event of nuclear armageddon—One Nation, Underground goes to the very heart of America's Cold War experience.

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User Review  - DarthDeverell - LibraryThing

In One Nation Underground: The Fallout Shelter in American Culture, Kenneth D. Rose argues, “The main reason Americans rejected [fallout] shelter building had to do with the troubling moral aspects of ... Read full review

One nation underground: the fallout shelter in American culture

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Although Rose (history, California State Univ., Chico; American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition) might have wished his popular history of the Cold War to work from below ground on up, his ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Kenneth D. Rose teaches at California State University and is author of American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition.

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