“In Case Atom Bombs Fall”

An Anthology of Governmental Explanations, Instructions and Warnings from the 1940s to the 1960s

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About the Book

With the very real possibility of nuclear war looming on the horizon from 1945 to the early 1960s, both federal and local governments took on the responsibility of educating Americans on how to survive the expected blasts, residual fallout, and radiation poisoning. Duck and cover drills, bomb shelters, and evacuation plans became an integral part of every citizen’s daily life. This book provides a sampling of civil defense publications issued by government agencies and organizations during this era. Arranged thematically, the book includes sections covering the impact and power of the atomic bomb, radioactive fallout, women and the home, the importance of being prepared, civil defense in schools, fallout shelters, evacuation plans, and, finally, the call for “peace or … else.”

About the Author(s)

Editor and writer Michael Scheibach received his doctorate in American studies and taught history, humanities, and writing as an adjunct professor for several years. He lives in Miami, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Michael Scheibach

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 91 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4541-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0420-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1
Prologue: This Is Civil Defense      7

PART 1—THE A-BOMB
Hiroshima      13
Atomic Basics      16
Operation Crossroads      19
Understanding the Atomic Bomb      25
Six Survival Secrets for Atomic Attacks      30

PART 2—RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT
From “Initial” to “Lingering” Fallout      33
Facts About Fallout      38
Nuclear Fallout      39
Radioactivity Is Nothing New      45
Fallout on the Farm      46

PART 3—WOMEN AND THE HOME
The Bomb and the Baby      53
Women in Civil Defense      55
At Home!! Are You Prepared      60
Grandma’s Pantry      61
Home Defense Corps      65
Home Defense Can Help You Prepare Now      68
Medical Aides      69

PART 4—BE PREPARED
Home Defense Pledge      75
Operation Alert      76
CONELRAD      83
If You Have Had No Warning in an A-Bomb Attack      86
Look to the Sky      88
Plane Spotters      92
What to Do If You’re Bombed      94
Before and During an Atomic Attack      100
Facts About the H Bomb      105
Don’t Panic      108
3 Minutes of Your Time      111
Common Sense      113

PART 5—DUCK AND COVER
“Atomics” in Education      119
Atomic Activities      129
The National Defense Pattern      133
Prepare for the Worst      134
School Shelters      140

PART 6—FIND SHELTER
Survival Requirements      147
Shelter Supplies      150
Shelter from Fallout      153
Shelter Preparation      158
Before Disaster Strikes      162
Know How to Survive      164
If an Attack Occurs      167

PART 7—EVACUATE
Highways for Civil Defense      171
Evacuation Guide      175
Will to Survive      177
Value of Shelters      180
Survival of the Fittest      181
Evacuation Rules and Routes      186
4 Wheels to Survival      191
Don’t Be There      192

PART 8—PEACE … OR ELSE
It Could Happen Here!      198
“Atoms for Peace”      199
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty      206
Postscript: First Steps Toward Recovery      212
Save This Book      214

Bibliography of Civil Defense Publications, 1950–1965      215
Index      217

Book Reviews & Awards

“a very intriguing and insightful volume…a fine addition”—Midwest Book Review.