The Cold War was the war that never happened.Nonetheless, it spurred the most significant buildup of military contingency this country has ever known: from the bunkers of Greenbrier, West Virginia, to the "proving grounds" of Nevada, where entire cities were built only to be vaporized. The Cold War was waged on a territory that knew no boundaries but left few traces.In this fascinating--and at turns frightening and comical--travelogue to the hidden battlefields of the Cold War, Tom Vanderbilt travels the Interstate (itself a product of the Cold War) to uncover the sites of Cold War architecture and reflect on their lasting heritage.In the process, Vanderbilt shows us what the Cold War landscape looked like, how architecture tried to adapt to the threat of mass destruction, how cities coped with the knowledge that they were nuclear targets, and finally what remains of the Cold War theater today, both its visible and invisible legacies. Ultimately, Vanderbilt gives us a deep look into our cultural soul, the dreams and fears that drove us for the last half of the 20th century.
This is a crucial and dazzling book. Masterful, and for me at least, intoxicating. It reminds us of the absurd and sinister ways humans have attempted to ensure their survival, and, without ever oversimplifying, it manages to be a ridiculously entertaining read. Amid the ruins of a different era in postwar national defense, its stepchild of abject paranoia, Vanderbilt--the perfect guide--finds levity and humanity. Survival City recalls the buoyant spirit of Michael Paterniti's Driving Einstein's Brain and the exacting but soulful reading of misplaced architectural aspirations of D.J. Waldie's Holy Land. - Dave Eggers, Author, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
From the Back Cover