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Cold War Buildings for Nuclear Confrontation 1946-1989 Ed P S Barnwell. English Heritage. 2003.

The cold war was one of the defining phenomena of the late 20th century and left its marks all over the world. Amongst these are the physical manifestations of the cast of mind, attitudes and ideology of the major players and their uncritical supporting actors.

In the post-war years all over the British countryside alien structures began to appear surrounded by barbed wire and electric fences. These were the domains of scientists, the military and politicians and a shroud of secrecy hung over them. The credibility of the nuclear deterrent was dependent on a complex infrastructure of surveillance and early warning systems and a network of deep bunkers from which the country would be governed after a nuclear strike. The insanity of this project is still hard to grasp but the pictures in this book implicitly show in all their banality the enormous technical and financial cost of this enterprise which has robbed us of skills and resources to build a better and safer world.

Today many of these structures are being demolished or turned into entertainment centres (educational of course) and signs for 'secret bunkers' are appearing all over the place. Many of these structures are also getting the 'heritage treatment', which despite explanatory leaflets and glossy displays strip them of much of their meaning but provides something to do on a 'day out'. That these buildings and the political and economic system that supported them have helped to create a rogue and belligerent superpower apparently hell bent on world domination - the very threat all this hardware was meant to protect us from - is unlikely to be mentioned.






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