Tag Archives: strath report

Lecture: Governments and the post-apocalypse world

25 Sep

v0_masterOn Monday October 5 at 7pm, I’ll be giving the first lecture of the year to the University of Edinburgh’s History Society. HistSoc are an extremely vibrant, active society, and I’m delighted to be part of this excellent series of student-organised academic lectures.

The lecture is entitled Staring into the Abyss: Governments and the post-apocalypse world. As my lecture blurb states:

During the Cold War, post-apocalyptic fiction became a staple of cinema, literature, and television. But what did governments think the post-nuclear attack world was going to be like? Did the politicians and officials with their fingers on triggers envisage post-attack societies in the same way as filmmakers, artists, and writers? This lecture explores the post-apocalyptic visions of the American and British governments and how they imagined life carrying on after the horror of global thermonuclear war. Delving into the the dark – and sometimes darkly comical – world of ‘breakdown’, ‘the machinery of control’, and ‘continuity of government’, this will be a whistle-stop tour through official visions of a nuclear holocaust that thankfully never happened.

If you’re in Edinburgh and want to come along, the lecture starts at 7pm on October 5 in Lecture Theatre 183, Old College, University of Edinburgh.

Nuclear Fallout on the American History Too! Podcast

23 Dec

Magazine Fallout Shelter Rendering ( coverpage )As part of our ongoing podcast series, Mark and I recently recorded an episode on the origins, importance, and public awareness (and lack thereof) of nuclear fallout in the 1940s and 50s.

In the podcast, we managed to cover a fair bit of ground. We talked about the origins of ‘the bomb’ (wherein I waffle about Einstein, Frisch, Peirels, etc), the differences between the A-bomb and the H-bomb, the 1954 Castle Bravo test, the Strath report, and then Mark cuts me off as I hit my stride about The War Game! To be fair, he’s much better at keeping the podcast running to time than I am!

It was fun to talk about something that is within my specialism, having previously discussed colonial-era slavery, Andrew Jackson, and the Gilded Age, amongst other things! As always, if there’s any feedback you have, please do let me know. You can find all of our podcasts on our Podbean website, or you can get them through iTunes.

Teaching The Nuclear Cold War: Weeks 4 and 5, US-UK relations & the Berlin and Cuban crises

21 Oct

An omnibus edition this time round, because of extreme busy-ness last week!

Week four of the course saw us tackle the ups and downs of the Anglo-American nuclear relationship. From the sudden cut-off because of the McMahon Act to the restoration to full cooperation under the Mutual Defence Agreement, nuclear relations between London and Washington were never that smooth.

This aside, one of the most fascinating aspects of week 3 was our examination of the 1955 Strath Report, and it’s this I’d like to concentrate on. Few university courses use the report in full as a primary source, but I think it – and the reactions it provokes – provide immensely instructive insights into British nuclear thinking in the 1950s. In brief, the Strath Report argued that with the advent of the hydrogen bomb, British society – in its 1950s form – could not survive nuclear war. Ministers responded to this with horror, recoiling from many of William Strath’s recommendations to increase survivability. Likewise, the government declined to make public the findings of Strath.

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