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(This is the fourth installment of a series. Be sure to start with Part 1.)

Civil Defense

After the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb in 1949, the American public was understandably nervous. They were aware of the destruction that individual atomic bombs did to the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the general public did not know a lot yet about the dangers of radiation and fallout.

So, a new Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) was set up in 1951 to educate – and reassure – the country that there were ways to survive an atomic attack from the Soviet Union. They commissioned a university study on how to achieve “emotion management” during the early days of the Cold War.

The Civil Defense plans included two seemingly contradictory strategies:

It was first necessary to have an unusual level of openness about just how bad nuclear bombs…

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