In This Review

Neither Dead nor Red: Civilian Defense and American Political Development During the Early Cold War
Neither Dead nor Red: Civilian Defense and American Political Development During the Early Cold War
By Andrew D. Grossman
Routledge, 2001, 175 pp.

This concise, scholarly book is unfortunately much timelier than its author could have hoped. When New Yorkers obediently evacuated Times Square in response to air raid sirens in 1955, they were practicing their generation's version of homeland security. Grossman recounts how the federal government built extraordinary institutions and acquired remarkable powers to prepare the country to survive the Cold War and a possible third world war. Focusing on the civil defense programs of the Truman administration as it created an Office of Civil Defense Planning (which later turned into the Federal Civil Defense Administration), the author notices how planning for internal and external security blurred together, raising troubling constitutional questions and changing government's role in society. We learn that a critical issue in 1952 remains as salient in 2002: Does civil defense really aspire to manage consequences of a catastrophic attack, or is it more an experiment in public psychology -- an illusion to ward off mass panic?