In Every Home a Fortress: Cold War Fatherhood and the Family Fallout Shelter
(University of Massachusetts Press, 2020), Thomas Bishop
details the remarkable cultural history and personal stories behind an iconic figure of Cold War masculinity—the fallout shelter father, who, with spade in hand and the canned goods he has amassed, sought to save his family from atomic warfare. Putting policy documents and presidential addresses into conversation with previously unmined personal letters, diaries, local media coverage, and antinuclear ephemera, Bishop demonstrates that the nuclear crisis years of 1957 to 1963 were not just pivotal for the history of international relations but were also a transitional moment in the social histories of the white middle class and American fatherhood. During this era, public concerns surrounding civil defense shaped private family conversations, and the fallout shelter emerged as a site at which ideas of nationhood, national security, and masculinity collided with the complex reality of trying to raise and protect a family in the nuclear age.
Diana DePasquale is an Associate Teaching Professor at Bowling Green State University. She teaches courses on race, gender, sexuality, and American culture. Diana has been published in Studies in American Humor, and online at In Media Res. She is also a proud winner of The Moth Story Slam in Detroit.