In this article, I interrogate the national cultural work performed by the mass circulation of images of a nuclear-bombed United States since 1945. It argues that the production of negative affect has become a central arena of nation-building in the nuclear age, and tracks the visual deployment of nuclear fear on film from the early Cold War project of civil defense through the “war on terror.” It argues that the production and management of negative affect remains a central tool of the national security state, and demonstrates the primary role the atomic bomb plays in the United States as a means of militarizing everyday life and justifying war.
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