Life Under a Cloud

Life Under a Cloud : American Anxiety About the Atom

4.15 (13 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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Description

This study surveys the effect of the atom bomb (and other nuclear devices) on American society in the years following World War II, thus discussing a large segment of American history and policy in the postwar decades. Behind official employment of the bomb as a nuclear weapon in the Cold War stood the continued fears by Americans of nuclear holocaust, fears that helped shape much of American's postwar agency.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 286 pages
  • 170.18 x 226.06 x 27.94mm | 612.35g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • 0195078217
  • 9780195078213

Review Text

In exploring the forces created between scientific, artistic, and political-activist groups and those who dictate international policy, Winkler (History/Miami University) provides a concise - if limited - review of public response to 50 years of global increase in nuclear arms. From its first explosion at Trinity Site, Winkler contends, the atom bomb not only permanently transformed the nature of warfare but revolutionized American participation in public policy as well. As the wave of American euphoria following the explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki gave way to an undertow of horror, perhaps first felt among those who helped create the bomb, many nuclear scientists felt compelled for the first time to try to affect public policy. Their efforts to communicate likely dangers of a nuclear buildup to political leaders and the public led to the creation of such groups as the Federation of Atomic Scientists and of periodicals like the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - which in turn, Winkler says, helped inspire more massively accessible artistic interpretations, such as Nevil Shute's On the Beach, innumerable 1950's sf movies, and Jonathan Schell's The Fate of the Earth. These creative efforts, along with particularly disturbing nuclear events (the Chernobyl disaster; the Star Wars buildup, etc.), spurred massive if sporadic mobilization among the general public, and, in response, US governmental leaders were forced to at least appear to cut back on some nuclear excesses. Though citizen activism tended to dissolve once immediate goals were realized, mobilization at key points in the development of nuclear policy did have a decided effect. Winkler also believes that activism continues to offer the last best hope as we struggle with nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, the nuclear strength of former Soviet republics, and the problem of nuclear-waste disposal. No surprises here, but Winkler's historical review is refreshingly balanced and neutral. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Allan M. Winkler

About the Author: Allan M. Winkler is Professor of History at Miami University, Ohio.show more

Rating details

13 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 31% (4)
4 54% (7)
3 15% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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