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Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis: Alice L. George
The University of North Carolina Press | ISBN: 0807828289 | 2003-10-22 | PDF (OCR) | 288 pages | 1.75 Mb
For thirteen days in October 1962, America stood at the brink of nuclear war. Nikita Khrushchev's decision to place nuclear missiles in Cuba and John F. Kennedy's defiant response introduced the possibility of unprecedented cataclysm. The immediate threat of destruction entered America's classrooms and its living rooms. Awaiting Armageddon provides the first in-depth look at this crisis as it simmered outside of government offices, where ordinary Americans realized their government was unprepared to protect itself or its citizens from the dangers of nuclear war. During the seven days between Kennedy's announcement of a naval blockade and Khrushchev's decision to withdraw Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba, U.S. citizens absorbed the nightmare scenario unfolding on their television sets. An estimated ten million Americans fled their homes; millions more prepared shelters at home, clearing the shelves of supermarkets and gun stores. Alice George captures the irrationality of the moment as Americans coped with dread and resignation, humor and pathos, terror and ignorance. In her examination of the public response to the missile crisis, the author reveals cracks in the veneer of American confidence in the early years of the space age and demonstrates how the fears generated by Cold War culture blinded many Americans to the dangers of nuclear war until it was almost too late.
Summary: Nuclear Confrontation 2006?
Just what would the government tell us at the brink of a nuclear war? I believe very little. The intense media we have over relatively small events today would certainly amplify the helpless feeling of not just the US population but of the world about another nuclear confrontation.
What I was looking for in this book was a description of the sheer terror that people might feel if we thought Russia or China was about to attack. Ask someone the sequence of events leading up to a nuclear attack in progress and the answers vary widely. If people knew how bad a nuclear attack, just one warhead, would be and thought it was about to happen they would be dropping on the streets from fright. The author describes this when comparing 1962 to the 2001 terrorist attacks. Compound the feeling most people had that day many times over and you can imagine the emotional and physical affect on people. Next take away the tv, phones, Internet and power as the attack gets underway and life in a digital void is a frightening thought.
The section about effects on children is interesting as some experts told adults to confront and talk about the issue with the children. Others told adults to just shut off the television/radio and don't over stimulate the child. Seemed like good advice for 2001 when children in school were subjected to continuous television replays with aircraft crashing into buildings.
Good topic and book.
Summary: Fear of World's End
With the precision of a journalist, Dr. Alice George returns a generation of baby boomers to a protracted period of dread. Her delvings into a broad span of source material, scholarly and popular, touch anew the terrors of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a time when people began to see the world as finite. As the current administration searches for weapons of mass destruction and biological killers, those of us old enough to remember the 1960s can recall the helpless feeling of squat-and-duck exercises that had no chance of protecting us from nuclear fallout. Well done, Dr. George.
Summary: A Must Buy
I sat down to read this book immediately upon receipt and have just come up for air. I could not put it down. (UPS dropped the Amazon shipment at my door this afternoon.) Upon completion of it, I am compelled to share my reaction immediately. For anyone who lived through this period or has an interest in our country's nuclear history, George's work is important. It's something you cannot miss. Many of us boomer have vague but indelible memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis from our youth. We learned then that we lived under (and continue to) the threat of annihilation. For those who share this experience, this book fills in many gaps in our understanding of this pivotal event in our lives and the direction of the country. It is a book long overdue. George does the subject justice. She is a fine writer and has uncovered and woven together fascinating details, developing a vivid picture of life during that week. I hope Alice George is now at work on another such masterpiece. I thank her for this book.