cover image Nuclear Fear: A History of Images

Nuclear Fear: A History of Images

Spencer R. Weart. Harvard University Press, $57 (552pp) ISBN 978-0-674-62835-9

Of Americans' fears of a nuclear missile attack, Weart writes: ""The potential threat brought an actual attack of imagery, a renewed eruption of hallucinatory visions across the landscapes of the mind.'' In this discursive analysis, the author of Scientists in Power dabbles in psychology as he discusses multiple symbols and associations that supposedly pervade the public's thinking about nuclear weaponry. Weart examines the U.S. Air Force's mock bomber raids and PR kits designed to promote the ``fantasy'' that apocalypse can be controlled. His chronicle implicitly holds antinuclear activists and environmentalists to be as guilty as the nuclear industry in manipulating facts and images to play on our fears. Moving from the Manhattan Project to Doris Lessing's futuristic novels, he reduces ``atomic bomb anxiety'' to a complex of imagery centered on the polarity between authority figures and victims. (May)