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Stock# 97464

Strangelovian Doorstop:

Nevada Plans for a Nuclear Attack, 1958

This massive Cold War survival compendium presents the results of an in-depth analysis of Nevada's risks in the event of a major nuclear attack. The report was made in specific response to the reality that "Soviet Russia and its aggressor satellite nations are now in possession of an array of guided missiles, including the 'Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile." The thick volume, with its 48 folding maps, was clearly intended for state officials and not for the general public. Acknowledging and ennumerating Nevada's high value military targets at the time, "of tactical importance to a potential enemy of the United States," the planning staff attempted to create a "realistic operational survival plan for each of five target areas in the state."  According to the foreword, the Nevada Operational Survival Plan "was written by the professional staff of the Nevada Survival Plan Project to fulfill the provisions of the Contract No. CD-SP-58-26 entered into on the 15th day of October 1957, between the Federal Civil Defense Administration...and Governor Charles H. Russell."

The Nevada Operational Survival Plan opens with a mimeograph of cover letter addressed to Gov. Russell, from the project manager, A. E. Holgate. According to Holgate: 

The main purpose of the project was to provide for the survival of the greatest number of the people of the State of Nevada in the event of an emergency or a nuclear attack upon this nation by an aggressor power.... our Staff members have visited the governing bodies of the seventeen counties and the city and towns of our state. Out of these contacts and studies of every local situation there has been prepared an Operational Survival Plan for the entire state. In addition thereto a similar plan has been prepared for each of the five target areas in the State, namely: Reno-Stead Air Force Base, Hoover Dam-Las Vegas-Nellis Air Force Base, the Hawthorne U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot, the U.S. Naval Auxiliary Air Station-Fallon and Carson City, the State capital.

The Table of Contents breaks down the material contained herein. Notably, the report, which is 3 1/2 inches thick, contains numerous folding maps.

  • Foreword
  • Basic Plan, 24 pages, following by the text of the Nevada Civil Defense Act of 1953, and 11 folding Nevada county maps.
  • Annex A: Command and Control, and 11 folding Nevada county and city highway maps. 
  • Annex B: Continuity of Government
  • Annex C: Economic Controls
  • Annex D: Manpower
  • Annex E: Movement, and 4 folding Nevada traffic flow maps.
  • Annex F: Shelters and Structures
  • Annex G: Attack Warning
  • Annex H: Intelligence
  • Annex J: Emergency Public Information
  • Annex K: Industries and Installations
  • Annex L: Welfare
  • Annex M: Medical and Health
  • Annex N: Communications
  • Annex O: Supply, and 11 folding Nevada highway maps.
  • Annex P: Transportation
  • Annex Q: Radiological
  • Annex R: Police Services, and 11 folding Nevada county highway maps
  • Annex S: Fire Services
  • Annex T: Rescue Services
  • Annex U: Engineering Services
  • Annex V: Warden Services
  • Annex W: Religious Affairs
  • Annex X: Mortuary Services
  • Annex Y: Home Preparedness
  • Annex Z: Emergency Administration
  • Annex AA: Emergency Fiscal Procedures
  • Annex BB: Training
  • Compendium CC: Personal Resources
  • Compendium DD: Physical Resources
  • Compendium EE: Legal
  • Attachment FF: Shelter Analysis
  • Glossary

Cold War Context and Historical Background

The State of Nevada Operational Survival Plan Project is a primary document of the Cold War-era initiative designed to fortify the state against the ominous threat of nuclear warfare. Conceived amidst a climate of escalating tensions and the sobering reality of Soviet missile capabilities, this comprehensive manual and its accompanying 48 folding maps offered a blueprint for resilience and survival, tailored to Nevada's unique strategic vulnerabilities.

In an age shadowed by the specter of nuclear conflict, the detailed contingency strategies outlined in the Nevada Operational Survival Plan were reflective of a broader national imperative: the safeguarding of American life and infrastructure against potential Soviet aggression. This was an era where civil defense transcended mere precaution, evolving into a sophisticated doctrine of survival, shaped by the geopolitical chessboard of the Cold War and the stark realities of missile technology advancements.

The document's contents—ranging from command and control to emergency public information—are a testament to the era's urgency for comprehensive civil defense mechanisms. This exhaustive manual, comprising over 500 pages, was not a public guidebook but a specialized dossier for state officials, delineating procedures for securing critical areas such as Reno-Stead Air Force Base and Hoover Dam. Its existence stands as a stark reminder of the strategic significance of Nevada's military installations during this period of heightened alert.

The rarity of the volume is underscored by its limited circulation, primarily confined within Nevada's governmental echelons. Its scarcity on the rare book market, with holdings in only 2 institutions, further emphasizes the specialized nature of this survival plan, a relic of a bygone era where the potential for catastrophe necessitated a plan of such formidable scope and detail.

Two additional publications accompany the massive Operational Survival Plan:

  • Alert Today Alive Tomorrow. [Carson City, 1958?]. Original pictorial card covers. 13 leaves. Estimated budget for 1959 for Nevada State Civil Defense. Submitted by Floyd H. Crabtree, Director.
  • What You Should Know About the National Plan for Civil Defense and Defense Mobilization. Washington: GPO, 1958. 30 pages. Original printed wrappers.


This massive work was issued for a limited distribution within the state of Nevada, likely on a strictly "need-to-know" basis. Consequently, it is very rare in both the rare book market as well as within institutional confines. OCLC locates only 2 examples: New York Public Library and University of Nevada, Reno.

Condition Description
Three volumes. All in original pictorial card covers or wrappers, the largest volume bound with Chicago-style rivets or binding posts. Overall condition is near fine. Nevada Survival Plan is unpaginated, with 500+ pages and 48 folding maps; Alert Today, 13 leaves; 1958 GPO pamphlet issued by Office of Civil Defense Mobilization: What You Should Know About the National Plan for Civil Defense and Defense Mobilization, 30 pages. All items complete.