WGBH Openvault

War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; The Common Defense (Part 1 of 3)

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


1958-1959 year in review featuring armed forces build up, speeches by Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the Quemoy-Matsu crisis.

License Clip

Untranscribed item: Request Transcription

War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Bigger Bang for the Buck, A
Program Number



The Common Defense (Part 1 of 3)

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

For the destructive power they deliver, nuclear weapons are cheap and efficient. In the 1950’s the United States begins to rely on nuclear, rather than conventional, weapons for its defense.

As nuclear policy evolved during the Eisenhower Administration, three factors combined to produce a new American reliance on nuclear weapons: pressure to control the federal budget (the “bigger bang” argument); competition as each branch of the American military adapted nuclear weapons to its mission; and Soviet bluffs that fueled American fears about a “bomber gap” and later a “missile gap.” On October 4, 1957, Sputnik, the Soviet satellite that was the first to orbit Earth, shocked Americans and delighted the Soviets. A month later, the Soviets launched Sputnik 2 with a dog on board. Both the Soviets and the Americans knew that a booster capable of carrying a dog into space could also deliver a nuclear warhead across a continent in 30 minutes.



Asset Type

Stock footage

Media Type


Armed Forces
Europe, Eastern
United States
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969 (Speaker)
Rights Summary

In perpetuity ; Public Domain Rights Holder: NAFB

Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; The Common Defense (Part 1 of 3),” 01/01/1958, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 27, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F8E1912277E640EF8E5F5EAEA2CD0316.
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; The Common Defense (Part 1 of 3).” 01/01/1958. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 27, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F8E1912277E640EF8E5F5EAEA2CD0316>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; The Common Defense (Part 1 of 3). Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F8E1912277E640EF8E5F5EAEA2CD0316
If you have more information about this item, we want to know! Please contact us, including the URL.