[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
January 13, 1984

The Destruction of Civilization in Nuclear War

Author Affiliations

Port Jefferson, NY

JAMA. 1984;251(2):197. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340260015005

In discussions of the consequences of all-out nuclear war, most consideration is given to the death and physical destruction that would result from it. These are the most important consequences, of course, and from them alone, American society would be destroyed. However, in the back of the minds of those for whom nuclear war is thinkable seems to lurk the thought that recovery of the United States as a civilized nation is possible, if not immediately, then in 25 to 50 years. (And at least we would be rid of the Russians.) After all, they seem to reason, look what happened in Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union after the mass destruction of their industrial bases in World War II. Allowing for radioactivity and all that, could not the same thing, albeit at a slower pace, happen again? For those who consider "protracted nuclear war" and who discuss the tactics