Alert America!

The Atomic Bomb and “The Show That May Save Your Life”


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About the Book

To address the threat of an atomic-armed Soviet Union during the early days of the Cold War, President Harry Truman approved the Alert America exhibit as the most effective way to convey the destructive power of the atomic bomb and to encourage participation in civil defense. Following its debut in the nation’s capital in January 1952, Alert America, promoted as “The Show That May Save Your Life,” traveled in three separate convoys to more than eighty cities considered most likely to be bombed, and garnered unprecedented support from elected and civic officials, the media, the military, private industry, and myriad organizations. This is the first book to examine the scope and impact of Alert America, which has been largely overlooked by historians. Also included are resource materials providing insights into the government’s overriding objective of preparing men, women and children to survive an atomic war.

About the Author(s)

Independent historian Michael Scheibach has written three books on the early Cold War and edited an anthology of governmental publications related to the atomic bomb and civil defense. He has a doctorate in American studies and taught for several years as an adjunct professor. He lives in Miami, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Michael Scheibach

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 204
Bibliographic Info: 27 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7804-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3659-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Alert America Pledge viii
Preface 1
Introduction: Victory, Apathy, and Alert America 7
One. America 1952 25
Two. “Paul Revere on Wheels” 42
Three. Crossing the Delaware 59
Four. “The Show That May Save Your Life” 75
Five. Convoys on the Road 89
Six. Women and Children on Alert 105
Seven. The Press Responds 122
Conclusion: After Effects 133
Appendix A: Alert America Campaign Progress Report 147
Appendix B: The “Alert America” Program for Your Community 160
Appendix C: Alert America! The Time Is Now! 169
Appendix D: Fact Sheet on “Alert America Convoy” 172
Chapter Notes 175
Bibliography 189
Index 193