Building peace, fearing the apocalypse?
Nuclear danger in Soviet Cold War culture
in Understanding the imaginary war
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This article asks whether there was a cold-war culture in the USSR, and if so, what was its nature? How were nuclear weapons, and their destructive force, imagined beyond the iron curtain? Soviet leaders were keen to present themselves as advocates for peace and opponents of atomic warfare, but they were also reluctant to allow Soviet citizens to imagine the possibilities of human destruction too fully. Over the course of the Cold War, the information accessible to Soviet citizens certainly increased, but until the very end they were expected to keep their emotions in check. Yet this did not mean that ordinary people did not experience alarm about the prospect of nuclear war; instead they were forced to look outside the bounds of official Soviet culture for an effective language through which to express their anxieties.

Understanding the imaginary war

Culture, thought and nuclear conflict, 1945–90


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