The dangerous, decades-long arms race between the United States and
the Soviet Union during the Cold War begged a fundamental question:
how did these superpowers actually plan to survive a nuclear
strike? In Armageddon Insurance
, the first historical
account of Soviet civil defense and a pioneering reappraisal of its
American counterpart, Edward M. Geist compares how the
two superpowers tried, and mostly failed, to reinforce their
societies to withstand the ultimate catastrophe.
Drawing on previously unexamined documents from archives in
America, Russia, and Ukraine, Geist places these civil defense
programs in their political and cultural contexts, demonstrating
how each country's efforts reflected its cultural preoccupations
and blind spots and revealing how American and Soviet civil defense
related to profound issues of nuclear strategy and national values.
This work challenges prevailing historical assumptions and
unearths the ways Moscow and Washington developed nuclear weapons
policies based not on rational strategic or technical
considerations but in power struggles between different
institutions pursuing their own narrow self-interests.