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August 2, 1985

War Day

JAMA. 1985;254(5):683-684. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360050121043

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War Day is a novel of irony. Our electronic and nonnuclear (Star Wars) superiority forces the Soviet leadership into a position from which they feel the only way out is a first strike. A 30-minute nuclear exchange takes place in October 1988. One day later both the United States and the Soviet Union no longer exist as we know them. Washington, DC, and San Antonio, Tex, are vaporized, and New York City is burning, flooded, and slowly being evacuated by those few in Manhattan who survive. The total loss of life in the United States on "War Day" is approximately 7 million. The results of the destruction caused in the Soviet Union by our Minuteman missiles are left to the readers' imagination.

Following brief descriptions of the narrators' experiences on War Day, the novel deals with a trip they make across the "United States" five years later. In those five