Recently I was looking at two civil-defense publications, issued more than
40 years apart: a 2003 booklet from the Northern Virignia Regional
Commission titled "Your Guide to Emergency Preparedness", and an August 1961
booklet, containing a series of articles reprinted from the Baltimore Sun
newspaper and titled "If an Attack Comes...".
Both booklets are full of practical advice, much of which is remarkably
similar, but what really struck me were the differences in language and
tone. In general, the 1961 publication is much more blunt and graphic in
explaining the effects of a nuclear attack and the consequences of being
unprepared. For example, in discussing the effects of chemical weapons, it
states "The psychic gases cause irrational actions as they attack your
central nervous system. You can go blind as well as crazy". And the final
sentences read "Knowledge about self-survival, the experts say, is the
difference between defeat or victory in an enemy attack. Knowing also can
mean whether you live or die."
In contrast, the 2003 booklet is quite sparing in its use of words like
"death" and "attack", preferring terms like "emergency event". Some of the
difference, of course, can be attributed to the 2003 booklet's much broader
scope, covering both natural and man-made disasters, in contrast to the 1961
publication's sole focus on nuclear attack.
The 2003 booklet can be viewed at:
and I've put the 1961 booklet in my queue of things to be scanned.