In Atomic Culture, eight scholars examine the range of cultural expressions of atomic energy from the 1940s to the early twenty-first century, including comic books, nuclear landscapes, mushroom-cloud postcards, the Los Alamos suburbs, uranium-themed board games, future atomic waste facilities, and atomic-themed films such as Dr. Strangelove and The Atomic Kid.
Despite the growing interest in atomic culture and history, the body of relevant scholarship is relatively sparse. Atomic Culture opens new doors into the field by providing a substantive, engaging, and historically based consideration of the topic that will appeal to students and scholars of the Atomic Age as well as general readers.
Contributors include Michael A. Amundson, Mick Broderick, Peter Goin, John Hunner, Ferenc M. Szasz, A. Costandina Titus, Peter C. van Wyck, and Scott C. Zeman.
China’s approach to nuclear deterrence has been broadly consistent since its first test in 1964, but it has recently accelerated nuclear force modernization. China’s strategic environment is likely to grow more complex, and nuclear constituencies are gaining a larger bureaucratic voice. Beijing is unlikely to change official nuclear policies but will probably increase emphasis on nuclear deterrence and may adjust the definition of key concepts.
In The Contours of America's Cold War, Matthew Farish explores new ways of conceptualizing space as part of post-World War II American militarism. He demonstrates how the social sciences were militarized in the early Cold War period, producing spatial knowledge that was of immediate use to the state as it sought to expand its reach across the globe.
Geographic knowledge generated for the Cold War was a form of power, Farish argues, and it was given an urgency in the panels, advisory boards, and study groups established to address the challenges of an atomic world. He investigates how the scales of the city, the continent, the region, the globe, and, by extension, outer space, were brought together as strategic spaces, categories that provided a cartographic orientation for the Cold War and influenced military deployments, diplomacy, espionage, and finance.
Farish analyzes the surprising range of knowledge production involved in the project of claiming and classifying American space. Backed by military and intelligence funding, physicists and policy makers, soldiers and social scientists came together to study and shape the United States and its place in a divided world.
A timely interdisciplinary study that applies psychoanalysis and the rhetorical tradition of the sublime to examine the cultural aftermath of the Atomic Age
Every culture throughout history has obsessed over various “end of the world” scenarios. The dawn of the Atomic Age marked a new twist in this tale. For the first time, our species became aware of its capacity to deliberately destroy itself. Since that time the Bomb has served as an organizing metaphor, a symbol of human annihilation, a stand-in for the unspeakable void of extinction, and a discursive construct that challenges the limits of communication itself. The parallel fascination with and abhorrence of nuclear weapons has metastasized into a host of other end-of-the-world scenarios, from global pandemics and climate change to zombie uprisings and asteroid collisions.
Desiring the Bomb: Communication, Psychoanalysis, and the Atomic Age explores these world-ending fantasies through the lens of psychoanalysis to reveal their implications for both contemporary apocalyptic culture and the operations of language itself. What accounts for the enduring power of the Bomb as a symbol? What does the prospect of annihilation suggest about language and its limits? Thoroughly researched and accessibly written, this study expands on the theories of Kenneth Burke, Jacques Lacan, Sigmund Freud, and many others from a variety of disciplines to arrive at some answers to these questions.
Calum L. Matheson undertakes a series of case studies—including the Trinity test site, nuclear war games, urban shelter schemes, and contemporary survivalism—and argues that contending with the anxieties (individual, social, cultural, and political) born of the Atomic Age depends on rhetorical conceptions of the “real,” an order of experience that cannot be easily negotiated in language. Using aspects of media studies, rhetorical theory, and psychoanalysis, the author deftly engages the topics of Atomic Age survival, extinction, religion, and fantasy, along with their enduring cultural legacies, to develop an account of the Bomb as a signifier and to explore why some Americans have become fascinated with fantasies of nuclear warfare and narratives of postapocalyptic rebirth.
When President Harry Truman introduced the atomic bomb to the world in 1945, he described it as a God-given harnessing of “the basic power of the universe.” Six days later a New York Times editorial framed the dilemma of the new Atomic Age for its readers: “Here the long pilgrimage of man on Earth turns towards darkness or towards light.” American nuclear scientists, aware of the dangers their work involved, referred to one of their most critical experiments as “tickling the dragon’s tail.” Even after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, most Americans may not have been sure what an atomic bomb was or how it worked. But they did sense that it had fundamentally changed the future of the human race. In this book, Robert Jacobs analyzes the early impact of nuclear weapons on American culture and society. He does so by examining a broad range of stories, or “nuclear narratives,” that sought to come to grips with the implications of the bomb’s unprecedented and almost unimaginable power. Beginning with what he calls the “primary nuclear narrative,” which depicted atomic power as a critical agent of social change that would either destroy the world or transform it for the better, Jacobs explores a variety of common themes and images related to the destructive power of the bomb, the effects of radiation, and ways of surviving nuclear war. He looks at civil defense pamphlets, magazines, novels, and films to recover the stories the U.S. government told its citizens and soldiers as well as those presented in popular culture. According to Jacobs, this early period of Cold War nuclear culture—from 1945 to the banning of above-ground testing in 1963—was distinctive for two reasons: not only did atmospheric testing make Americans keenly aware of the presence of nuclear weapons in their lives, but radioactive fallout from the tests also made these weapons a serious threat to public health, separate from yet directly linked to the danger of nuclear war.
In The Future of Fallout, and Other Episodes in Radioactive World-Making Joseph Masco examines the strange American intimacy with and commitment to existential danger. Tracking the simultaneous production of nuclear emergency and climate disruption since 1945, he focuses on the psychosocial accommodations as well as the technological revolutions that have produced these linked planetary-scale disasters. Masco assesses the memory practices, visual culture, concepts of danger, and toxic practices that, in combination, have generated a U.S. national security culture that promises ever more safety and comfort in everyday life but does so only by generating and deferring a vast range of violences into the collective future. Interrogating how this existential lag (i.e., the material and conceptual fallout of the twentieth century in the form of nuclear weapons and petrochemical capitalism) informs life in the twenty-first century, Masco identifies key moments when other futures were still possible and seeks to activate an alternative, postnational security political imaginary in support of collective life today.
Mordecai Roshwald; Edited and with a new foreword by David Seed University of Wisconsin Press, 2004 Library of Congress PS3568.O84154L4 2004 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Level 7 is the diary of Officer X-127, who is assigned to stand guard at the "Push Buttons," a machine devised to activate the atomic destruction of the enemy, in the country’s deepest bomb shelter. Four thousand feet underground, Level 7 has been built to withstand the most devastating attack and to be self-sufficient for five hundred years. Selected according to a psychological profile that assures their willingness to destroy all life on Earth, those who are sent down may never return.
Originally published in 1959, and with over 400,000 copies sold, this powerful dystopian novel remains a horrific vision of where the nuclear arms race may lead, and is an affirmation of human life and love. Level 7 merits comparison to Huxley’s A Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984 and should be considered a must-read by all science fiction fans.
What drove Nobel-winning physicist Hans Bethe, head of Theoretical Physics at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project, to later renounce the weaponry he had worked so tirelessly to create? That is one of the questions answered by Nuclear Forces, a riveting biography of Bethe’s early life and development as both a scientist and a man of principle.
Gabriele Schwab University of Minnesota Press, 2020 Library of Congress PN56.N83 | Dewey Decimal 355.021701
A pioneering examination of nuclear trauma, the continuing and new nuclear peril, and the subjectivities they generate
Amid resurgent calls for widespread nuclear energy and “limited nuclear war,” the populations that must live with the consequences of these decisions are increasingly insecure. The nuclear peril combined with the looming threat of climate change means that we are seeing the formation of a new kind of subjectivity: humans who are in a position of perpetual ontological insecurity. In Radioactive Ghosts, Gabriele Schwab articulates a vision of these “nuclear subjectivities” that we all live with.
Focusing on the legacies of the Manhattan Project, Hiroshima, and nuclear energy politics, Radioactive Ghosts takes us on a tour of the little-seen sides of our nuclear world. Examining devastating uranium mining on Native lands, nuclear sacrifice zones, the catastrophic accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima, and the formation of a new transspecies ethics, Schwab shows how individuals threatened with extinction are creating new adaptations, defenses, and communal spaces. Ranging from personal accounts of experiences with radiation to in-depth readings of literature, film, art, and scholarly works, Schwab gives us a complex, idiosyncratic, and personal analysis of one of the most overlooked issues of our time.
The Cold War forced scientists to reconcile their values of internationalism and objectivity with the increasingly militaristic uses of scientific knowledge. For decades, antinuclear scientists pursued nuclear disarmament in a variety of ways, from grassroots activism to transnational diplomacy and government science advising. The U.S. government ultimately withstood these efforts, redefining science as a strictly technical endeavor that enhanced national security and deeming science that challenged nuclear weapons on moral grounds “emotional” and patently unscientific. In response, many activist scientists restricted themselves to purely technical arguments for arms control. When antinuclear protest erupted in the 1980s, grassroots activists had moved beyond scientific and technical arguments for disarmament. Grounding their stance in the idea that nuclear weapons were immoral, they used the “emotional” arguments that most scientists had abandoned. Redefining Science shows that the government achieved its Cold War “consensus” only by active opposition to powerful dissenters and helps explain the current and uneasy relationship between scientists, the public, and government in debates over issues such as security, energy, and climate change.
In an era defined by the threat of nuclear annihilation, Western nations attempted to prepare civilian populations for atomic attack through staged drills, evacuations, and field exercises. In Stages of Emergency the distinguished performance historian Tracy C. Davis investigates the fundamentally theatrical nature of these Cold War civil defense exercises. Asking what it meant for civilians to be rehearsing nuclear war, she provides a comparative study of the civil defense maneuvers conducted by three NATO allies—the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom—during the 1950s and 1960s. Delving deep into the three countries’ archives, she analyzes public exercises involving private citizens—Boy Scouts serving as mock casualties, housewives arranging home protection, clergy training to be shelter managers—as well as covert exercises undertaken by civil servants.
Stages of Emergency covers public education campaigns and school programs—such as the ubiquitous “duck and cover” drills—meant to heighten awareness of the dangers of a possible attack, the occupancy tests in which people stayed sequestered for up to two weeks to simulate post-attack living conditions as well as the effects of confinement on interpersonal dynamics, and the British first-aid training in which participants acted out psychological and physical trauma requiring immediate treatment. Davis also brings to light unpublicized government exercises aimed at anticipating the global effects of nuclear war. Her comparative analysis shows how the differing priorities, contingencies, and social policies of the three countries influenced their rehearsals of nuclear catastrophe. When the Cold War ended, so did these exercises, but, as Davis points out in her perceptive afterword, they have been revived—with strikingly similar recommendations—in response to twenty-first-century fears of terrorists, dirty bombs, and rogue states.
A "second nuclear age" has begun in the post-Cold War world. Created by the expansion of nuclear arsenals and new proliferation in Asia, it has changed the familiar nuclear geometry of the Cold War. Increasing potency of nuclear arsenals in China, India, and Pakistan, the nuclear breakout in North Korea, and the potential for more states to cross the nuclear-weapons threshold from Iran to Japan suggest that the second nuclear age of many competing nuclear powers has the potential to be even less stable than the first.
Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age assembles a group of distinguished scholars to grapple with the matter of how the United States, its allies, and its friends must size up the strategies, doctrines, and force structures currently taking shape if they are to design responses that reinforce deterrence amid vastly more complex strategic circumstances. By focusing sharply on strategy -- that is, on how states use doomsday weaponry for political gain -- the book distinguishes itself from familiar net assessments emphasizing quantifiable factors like hardware, technical characteristics, and manpower. While the emphasis varies from chapter to chapter, contributors pay special heed to the logistical, technological, and social dimensions of strategy alongside the specifics of force structure and operations. They never lose sight of the human factor -- the pivotal factor in diplomacy, strategy, and war.
The highly acclaimed Weapons for Victory originally appeared in 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II. Now, in this paperback edition, Robert James Maddox provides a new introduction about the ongoing controversy related to the decision to bomb Hiroshima.
Herman Kahn was the only nuclear strategist in America who might have made a living as a standup comedian. In telling his story, Ghamari-Tabrizi captures an era that is still very much with us--a time whose innocence, gruesome nuclear humor, and outrageous but deadly serious visions of annihilation have their echoes in the "known unknowns and unknown unknowns" that guide policymakers in our own embattled world.