The Imaginary War: Civil Defense and American Cold War Culture

Hardcover | January 1, 1995

byGuy Oakes

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"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, nationalsecurity officials knew it. The real purpose of 1950's civil defense programs, Oakes contends, 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 threesides 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 and the official mythmaking of the Cold War will be essential reading for all those interested in American history, politics, and culture.

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From Our Editors

"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 t...

From the Publisher

"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, nationalsecurity officials knew it. The real purpos...

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

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 9.53 × 6.26 × 0.79 inPublished:January 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195090276

ISBN - 13:9780195090277

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From Our Editors

"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

Editorial Reviews

"...Oakes has written an engaging and original book that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the cold war. ...[A] concise and well-argued book..."--Peace and Change