Attack Warning Red!

Julie McDowall


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Vintage Publishing
6 April 2023
ISBN: 9781847926210
256 pages

From the publisher

The first book to tell the story of day-to-day life on the nuclear home front - from the host of the #1 Apple podcast Atomic Hobo

'Thrilling and profoundly important' Juliet Nicolson, author of Frostquake

The atomic bombs of 1945 changed war forever. The awesome power of the blast and its deadly fallout meant that every town, village and home in Britain fell under the nuclear shadow, and the threat of annihilation coloured every aspect of ordinary life for the next forty years.

Families were encouraged to construct makeshift shelters with cardboard, plastic sheets and sandbags. Vicars and pub landlords learnt how to sound hand-wound sirens, offering four minutes to scramble to safety. Hospitals braced themselves and thousands volunteered to give nuclear first aid, often consisting of breakfast tea, herbal remedies, and advice on how to die without contaminating others. And while the public had to look after themselves, bunkers were readied for the officials and experts who would ensure life continued after the catastrophe.

Today we may read about the Cold War and life in Britain under the shadow of the mushroom cloud - its Dad's Army amateurism and futile measures for a war that was not survivable - with a sense of amusement and relief that the apocalypse did not happen. But it is also a timely and powerful reminder that, so long as nuclear weapons exist, the nuclear threat will always be with us.

'Impossible to believe, just as hard to put down. Urgent. Terrifying' Dan Snow, host of History Hit