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The nuclear terror of 1983

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To be a child in the fall of 1983, writes Alexander Zaitchik, was to live with the constant fear of nuclear holocaust. As the Cold War's Strangelovian logic heightened tensions between the Kremlin and Reagan's White House, civilian life took place against a backdrop of impending apocalypse, culminating in the graphic, influential made-for-TV movie The Day After. "Those born into the age of cable and the internet will struggle to understand how completely the nation's attention was riveted on that film," he writes, describing his nine-year-old self's conviction that death would be better than the horrors of nuclear war. "For months, I had debated whether to try and run and hide, or climb the nearest roof. The movie decided it for the roof."