"Cold War in a Cold Land" is a study of people and place during a specific era. The thesis that the Cold War was neither traumatic nor fearful, but transformative and opportunistic, points out that this work will challenge previous notions of Cold War and regional historiography. For example, chapter 2 confronts regional historiography by showing that citizens in the region were pragmatic, not isolationist when it came to international issues.
Chapters 3 and 4 challenge Cold War historiography by looking at the issue of Communists in the region, and determines that citizens were not overly concerned with finding them, nor did they believe that the Communist Party posed a threat to the American way of life. More specifically, citizens on the northern plains believed that Communism was a problem found in Washington or New York, but certainly not at home.
Chapters 5, 6, and 8 look at certain aspects of civil defense and ways in which these programs were designed to work in theory and reality. Since the state and local governments were responsible for staffing, equipping, and funding civil defense projects, they accomplished little in the way of preparation. Thus, people in the region largely ignored the possibility of a Soviet nuclear attack.
There was one aspect of the Cold War that appealed to the region, and this was the establishment of federal military installations. Military bases promised long-term financial assistance to beleaguered local economies, and communities fought to bring the bases to their local environs. Airbases, missile silos, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Complex all promised tremendous financial assistance during the Cold War, and continue to do so.
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