The Imaginary War

The Imaginary War : Civil Defense and American Cold War Culture

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Description

"Duck and cover" are unforgettable words for a generation of Americans who listened throughout the Cold War to the unescapable propaganda of civil defense. Yet it would have been impossible to protect Americans from a real nuclear attack and, as Guy Oakes shows in The Imaginary War, national security officials knew it. Oakes contends that the real purpose of 1950s civil defense programs was not to protect Americans from the bomb, but to ingrain in them the moral resolve needed to face the hazards of the Cold War. Uncovering the links between national security, civil defense, and civic ethics, Oakes reveals three sides to the civil defense program: a system of emotional management designed to control fear; the fictional construction of a manageable world of nuclear attack; and the production of a Cold War ethic rooted in the mythology of the home, the ultimate sanctuary of American values. This fascinating analysis of the culture of civil defense is a strong indictment of the official mythmaking of the Cold War. It will be essential reading for all those interested in American history, politics, and cultural studies.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 202 pages
  • 161.3 x 243.6 x 19.6mm | 437.93g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • halftones
  • 0195090276
  • 9780195090277

Back cover copy

"Duck and cover" are unforgettable words for a generation of Americans who listened throughout the Cold War to the unescapable propaganda of civil defense. Yet it would have been impossible to protect Americans from a real nuclear attack and, as Guy Oakes shows in The Imaginary War, national security officials knew it. Oakes contends that the real purpose of 1950s civil defense programs was not to protect Americans from the bomb, but to ingrain in them the moral resolve needed to face the hazards of the Cold War. Uncovering the links between national security, civil defense, and civic ethics, Oakes reveals three sides to the civil defense program: a system of emotional management designed to control fear; the fictional construction of a manageable world of nuclear attack; and the production of a Cold War ethic rooted in the mythology of the home, the ultimate sanctuary of American values. This fascinating analysis of the culture of civil defense is a strong indictment of the official mythmaking of the Cold War. It will be essential reading for all those interested in American history, politics, and cultural studies.show more

About Guy Oakes

Guy Oakes is Professor of Philosophy and Social Policy at Monmouth College and author of Weber and Rickert (1988).show more

Review quote

Oakes has told his tale well, avoiding the jargon which is common among social scientists, and not promising more than he delivers. The author has utilized a wide range of sources. * Gary B. Ostrower, Alfred University, The Historian *show more

Rating details

5 ratings
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