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Wednesday, July 5, 2017
BY JUNE 30, 2017
As summer travel and holidays get underway, your Elephants in the Room contributors have resurrected a tradition from our erstwhile Shadow Government days and put together our summer reading list.
Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself, by Garrett Graff. This is a deeply reported and richly detailed account of one of the most sensitive secrets of the Cold War era: the U.S. government’s myriad plans to preserve some semblance of a functioning, democratic government in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack. These efforts, collectively known as continuity of government and continuity of operations plans, developed incrementally over the decades of the nuclear era as leaders grappled with the daunting task of thinking the unthinkable. Graff’s skepticism that these plans and systems would actually work is palpable and we all should be deeply grateful they have never been put to the ultimate test. This is a topic I studied very closely at the start of my professional career, and though I have just started the book, I am amazed at what Graff was able to uncover. So far, I am learning something on every page. And the nuggets add up to one important insight: As difficult as the geopolitical challenges are that preoccupy our leaders today, they still do not add up to the civilization-threatening challenge of deterring or surviving a global thermonuclear war.