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Conservatives: They want you to pay for everything on your own. These days, they want you to make a personal investment in your retirement. In the ’80s, they wanted you to make a personal investment in your education. In the ’50s, they even wanted you to make a personal investment in your survival during a nuclear conflict—and in Cold War D.C., civil defense began at home, preferably in the basement. The Eisenhower administration’s decidedly hands-off policies urged Washingtonians to make good use of their freedom, spirit of private enterprise, and privilege of individual choice to build their own bomb shelters. Perhaps members of Congress, who knew that martial law would have to be declared in the wake of a nuclear attack, imagined this would be a poetic final democratic expression for District citizens. (Not that a shelter would really matter if you lived within the 1.5-mile “total destruction zone” surrounding the Lincoln Memorial.) In his book This Is Only a Test: How Washington D.C. Prepared for Nuclear War, David F. Krugler analyzes the turmoil that surrounded Washington D.C. during the Cold War and finds, not surprisingly, that nobody was really prepared at all. Despite a list of acronym-heavy agencies, the federal government, Krugler reveals, could not ensure a safe evacuation of the city, the sheltering of its citizens, or—even more chilling—its own continuity. Learn to stop worrying and love the bomb when Krugler reads from and signs copies of his work at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 418 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 638-7610. (Aaron Leitko)