Review of "The Missile Next Door: The Minuteman in the American Heartland" by Gretchen Heefner

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Book Review

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Choice Reviews Online




Heefner (Connecticut College) makes a significant contribution to the growing genre of new military history, adeptly describing how the Defense Department made the strategic and political decision to scatter Minuteman missile silos across the Plains and the upper West. By placing silos in out-of-the-way areas, the Defense Department kept at least part of the costly nuclear buildup out of the public eye. To undertake this program, the Defense Department enlisted farmers, ranchers, and other westerners to allow silos to be placed literally next door to their homes, resulting in a dilemma for these Cold War citizens; though they welcomed the economic boom having such Armageddon weapons on their properties meant, they also became targets of the Soviet nuclear arsenal. Heefner argues that this relationship between citizens and the federal government challenged traditional concepts of place and individualism. Her wonderfully written and well-researched work draws from across the historical spectrum; cultural, social, military, and environmental historians, in particular, will find value in her effort.