Illustration from the Nuclear Attack Survival Guide for children from the 1950s

The threat of nuclear war was a hit to the United States while it was already down. Americans were recovering from not only the lasting effects from WWI, but also from the Great Depression. Many citizens were losing trust in our governments capabilities. However, the idea of nuclear war was beyond terrifying for the public, and once it was apparent that the Soviet Union would not cooperate during the cold war, it seemed the United States only option was to fight back.

Fear spread like wildfire during the Cold War. It seemed any minute a bomb would drop. School children were taught to “duck and cover” in the threat of nuclear fallout. Families began building shelters to protect their families if nuclear bombs were ever to drop. Everyone was on edge. Public panic was made even worse by the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979. General mistrust in our government got worse and worse as the Cold war and threat of nuclear attack progressed.

After the war, tensions were still high. A new menacing weapon had been introduced to the world, and internationally everyone was on edge. The experience of nuclear war is likely to have devastating psychological effects, especially for Americans, whose homes and institutions have essentially escaped the ravages of recent wars (Social and Economic Effects of Nuclear War). Nuclear war generated a culture of fear that produced many social changes in our society. An entire industry based on the fear of ‘Armageddon’ was born in the United States, a result of nuclear war. Government mistrust increased among Americans, who were still psychologically scared from war. The Cold war and the threat of nuclear attack greatly affected our nation, as well as the world as a whole.


“Cold War.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. < wiki/ Cold_War>.

Katz, Arthur M., and Sima R. Osdoby. “The Social and Economic Effects Of Nuclear War.” The Social and Economic Effects Of Nuclear War. N.p., 21 Apr. 1982. Web. <>.

“Nuclear Warfare.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. <http:// wiki/Nuclear_warfare>.

Image Resource:

“Nuclear Jitters.” Envisioning The American Dream. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://>.