Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Red Menace

The key to the proliferation of atomic weapons during the 50's (and beyond) was the presence of a potential enemy with similar technology: "The Red Menace".

Its a rare issue of Collier's or The Saturday Evening Post from any year between 1950 and 1960 that doesn't have at least one article focusing on the potential threat of Russia's ever-growing arsenal. If magazines were indeed where most Americans got their world news, its no surpise that dad was out in the yard, frantically digging a bomb shelter!

While the majority of articles about the enemy where op-ed or reportage, this oddity, illustrated by Stevan Dohanos is excerpted from a novel by Russian expatriate, Nikolai Marchenko.

The cumulative effect of so much peeking behind the Iron Curtain must surely have helped foment public opinion that more and bigger bombs where the only effective deterrent to being overrun by Communist invaders. No wonder everybody in the 50's was coming home from work and heading straight to the bar for a martini!

Still, when you're playing with atoms, you don't need enemies to put your life in danger. Tomorrow: Oops!

* All of today's images can be seen in my Red Menace Flickr set.

1 comment:

  1. That third illustration is really interesting. Without reading any associated text, it would seem a state official is visiting this family's home to take a bribe, while they nervously hope everything goes smoothly. He pauses to admire the Stalin portrait that they've no doubt put up for just this purpose, while the crucifix is hanging off to the side. Maybe they should've put it away before this meeting. Or maybe they didn't have time...