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Civil Defense Images in Film and Television from the Cold War to 9/11

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About the Book

During the 1950s and early 1960s, school air-raid drills, bomb shelters, and unnerving civil defense films served as constant reminders of the looming threat of nuclear war. Throughout America, a widespread civil defense effort used town meetings, public school educational programs, and the mass media—television, radio, and especially, motion pictures—to mobilize every citizen for a protracted Cold War. This volume explores how American popular culture has portrayed civil defense from mid-twentieth century to the immediate post–September 11 era. With analysis of everything from early government propaganda films and 1950s science fiction films to Happy Days, the Reagan–era TV movie The Day After, and the small-screen nostalgia trend after 9/11, it shows how popular culture reflects American fears and the hope of preparedness.

About the Author(s)

Melvin E. Matthews, Jr., is a contributing writer to the Roanoke (Virginia) Star-Sentinel, Roanoke Magazine, Roanoke Times and History News Network.

Bibliographic Details

Melvin E. Matthews, Jr.
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 229
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6587-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8850-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. Government Propaganda Films and Civil Defense      11
2. Fifties Cinema and Civil Defense      34
3. Early Television and Civil Defense      73
4. The Kennedy Years: “Shelter Morality” and Survivalism      111
5. Nuclear Nostalgia in the Seventies      145
6. Reagan, the Nuclear Freeze Movement, and The Day After      158
7. From the Nineties to 9/11      178

Notes      201
Bibliography      214
Index      219

Book Reviews & Awards

“examines themes of civil defense and nuclear attack in film and television from the Atomic Age through the present post 9/11 era”—SciTech Book News.