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Survive the Bomb: The Radioactive Citizen's Guide to Nuclear Survival    edited by Eric Swedin order for
Survive the Bomb
by Eric Swedin
Order:  USA  Can
Zenith Press, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

If you remember Bert the Turtle and the instructions he gave children on how to duck and cover in the classroom during Civil Defense drills at school, this book will either conjure up nightmares or have you chuckling with laughter.

This unusual, and in some respects bizarre, little volume documents the U.S. government's efforts to deal with the threat of nuclear attack. On one hand, these materials were meant to make people feel safer but, conversely, they also made a nuclear holocaust seem even more possible and perhaps even imminent.

'In the early 1950s, fantastic notions of what the atom could unleash started to appear in such films as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Them!, This Island Earth, and a series of movies featuring a giant lizard awakened by atomic tests, Godzilla, courtesy of Japan's Toho Studios,' writes Swedin. 'Perhaps those atomic sci-fi films in the early 1950s were America's way to mentally process its own impending nuclear catastrophe. Atomic anxiety among U.S. citizens would hit its stride in the form of the Cold War.'

With Russia's launch of Sputnik it was game on and the nuclear race went into high gear. Remember CONELRAD tests on the radio? The ubiquitous yellow Fallout Shelter signs posted in buildings were a constant reminder that at any moment life could seriously disrupted by a nuclear attack.

This era spawned numerous documents and you'll find many of them collected here. There are the Civil Defense carrying cards one was supposed to carry in his or her wallet or purse, the instructions on how to construct your own home bomb shelter, and the list of survival items you should stock it with.

There's the Operation Survival! comic which includes a crossword puzzle and quiz for kids and wargame scenarios, aftermath descriptions and casualty estimates at various distances from ground zero as well as revealing studies, reports and recommendations to the U.S. Congress and President.

We may or may not find this little book's contents amusing but, upon further consideration, it may dawn on the reader that this threat is perhaps not entirely a thing of the past.

'Maybe we should not be so quick to mock those who take our guide for nuclear survival to heart,' says the author. 'Maybe they will be the ones who are laughing when their ill-prepared neighbors are pounding away for entry into their cozy, well-stocked shelter during some future dystopian reality.'

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