Radioactive Messages from the Cold War
Distributed for Intellect Ltd
Atomic postcards played an important role in creating and disseminating a public image of nuclear power. Presenting small-scale images of test explosions, power plants, fallout shelters, and long-range missiles, the cards were produced for mass audiences in China, the United States, the Soviet Union, and Japan, and they link the multilayered geographies of Atomic Age nationalism and tourism. From the unfailingly cheery slogans—“Greetings from Los Alamos”—to blithe, handwritten notes and no-irony-intended “Pray for Peace” postmarks, these postcards mailed from the edge of danger nonetheless maintain the upbeat language of their medium.
With 150 reproductions of cards and handwritten messages dating from the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the end of the Cold War, Atomic Postcards offers a fascinating glimpse of a time when the end of the world seemed close at hand.
"O'Brian and Borsos have added a valuable chapter to the cultural artifacts of the atomic age."—Rain Taxi
"Atomic Postcards documents a treasure trove of Cold War relics, some which need to be seen to be believed."—imprint
"Atomic Postcards fuses the almost inherently banal form of the canned tourist dispatch with the incipient peril, and nervously giddy promise, of the nuclear age. Collected within are two-sided curios spanning the vast range of the military-industrial complex—'radioactive messages from the Cold War,' as the book promises. . . . Taken as a whole, the postcards form a kind of de facto and largely cheery dissemination campaign for the wonder of atomic power."—Tom Vanderbilt, Slate