This Is Only a Test tells the history of nuclear age urban planning, civil defense, and continuity of government programs in one of the nation's most critical Cold War targets: Washington, D.C. Spanning the years 1940 to 1962, This Is Only a Test uses Washington’s often conflicting identities--capital, city, and symbol--to explore the connections between the attempted dispersal of vital government offices to distant suburban sites, the District's Office of Civil Defense, and the creation of the secretive Federal Relocation Arc. Measures to protect the federal government resulted in a widening gap between capital and city, while the failures of the city's local program symbolized federal ambivalence toward civil defense. This Is Only a Test shows how the Cold War affected Washington and its racially divided population.
"Long before 9/11, Washington, D.C., served as both symbol and target. David Krugler shows how Cold War fears of nuclear attack shaped the mind-set of national policymakers and remade the landscape of the national capital. The worst never happened but the civil defense efforts he documents offer sobering lessons for anyone concerned about the future continuity of our government." - Donald A. Ritchie, author of Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washington Press Corps
"Krugler's dissection of the inadequacies of America's early plans to assure continuity of government in the nation's capital against the eventuality of nuclear attack is not just good history. It reveals, in the aftermath of the attacks of 2001, how ill-prepared America remains in case of a significant threat to the homeland. Lively and deeply informed, Krugler's book is both compelling reading and a wake up call to the American public and its elected representatives." - Howard F. Gillette, Jr., author of Between Justice and Beauty: Race, Planning, and the Failure of Urban Policy in Washington, D.C.
"This Is Only a Test underscores the confusion, wishful thinking, political infighting, and ultimate futility of civil-defense planning in Washington, D.C. during the scariest years of the Cold War. Deeply researched and engagingly written, this book offers imagined - but firmly grounded - scenarios of the chaos an actual nuclear attack would surely have unleashed. Sensitive to the clash of personalities and conflicting interests, David Krugler shows how race, urban-suburban tensions, and the political pecking order in the nation's capital all shaped the debate. This timely study highlights issues that still confront us in this post-9/11 age." - Paul Boyer, author of By the Bomb's Early Light: American Thought
and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age