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Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself -- While the Rest of Us Die
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Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself -- While the Rest of Us Die

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,660 ratings  ·  208 reviews
A fresh window on American history: The eye-opening truth about the government’s secret plans to survive a catastrophic attack on US soil—even if the rest of us die—a roadmap that spans from the dawn of the nuclear age to today.

Every day in Washington, DC, the blue-and-gold 1st Helicopter Squadron, codenamed “MUSSEL,” flies over the Potomac River. As obvious as the Preside
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,660 ratings  ·  208 reviews

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Start your review of Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself -- While the Rest of Us Die
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cold-war, nuclear-war
“It’s not the end of the world at all…It’s only the end for us. The world will go on just the same, only we shan’t be in it. I dare say it will get along all right without us.”
- Nevil Shute, On the Beach

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency, you must start with this one thing: the very definition of ‘emergency’ is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.”
- Pres
Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself--While the Rest of Us Die by Garrett M. Graff is a 2017 Simon & Schuster publication.

This is a very interesting accounting of how the United States began, during the cold war era, to take intense precautions against the possibility of a nuclear war, that would preserve the presidency, even in the wake of massive destruction.

The measures were put in place, not to save any one president, in particular, from death, but to p
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is crazy. I keep trying to explain it to people, and failing to. Basically, this is the secret history of the US government's preparations for the apocalypse, starting with World War II, extending into the Cold War, boosted once more by 9/11, and then continuing to the current day.

The most obvious thing this book does is survey all the secret hardened underground facilities where the govt plans to weather the end of the world. There are a lot of them and they are big. That alone is pre
Adam Yoshida
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Compelling and Fascinating Read

This book is the single-best account of the development of the US Government's continuity of government plans that I've ever read. It is comprehensively-researched and energetically written. It presents the material in a compelling fashion, without becoming dull or overly-academic in tone.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself--While the Rest of Us Die by Garrett M. Graff is probably going to be the go-to book for learning about the history of American continuity-of-government for the foreseeable future. If you ever wanted to learn the ins and outs of how every President from Truman through Obama worked to make sure some part of the United States Government survived World War III, this is definitely your book. (I suppose it also makes great refe ...more
Apr 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2-goodread_wins
I won an ARC in a GOODREADS giveaway -- Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself While the Rest of Us Die by Garrett M. Graff -- pretty intense stuff to toss at me. It was very informative and will include documentation of where the research was from. A good read. *** side note: since my copy was an advanced & uncorrected proof; ALL of the end reference material pages were either not numbered/sorted {all 000s /non-alphabetized} or left blank to include in the fin ...more
Rachel Blakeman
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a concept this is a 5 star book. The execution is barely 3 stars. There are lots of interesting facts but it kind of drags on in too many sections to count. It needed an ongoing, strong narrative to pull the reader through. Instead it was essentially a list of what the author found in his research, organized mostly chronologically. It would have been really nice to have a glossary of all the programs and acronyms because I couldn't keep them straight after reading this book over two weeks. Ed ...more
Rick Lee Lee James
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read. The section on 9/11 alone is worth the price.
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My brother recommended this book to me as a source to help me understand the work that he does better. Otherwise, I would have been turned off from reading it by the title. From the title, I would have thought this was a kind of anti-government expose of their secret plans and conspiracies. There certainly are secret plans, but the book has a very straightforward factual tone. It is a very interesting history of the Continuity of Government (COG) plans that grew out of the atomic weapons age and ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Reasonably interesting look at the cold war-era "bunker" plans. I think it's kinda funny how self-important the government is that they go to such great lengths to make these convoluted plans with such great secrecy. The example of 9-11 where everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off really underscores how the government is not some sort of all-powerful collection of brilliant people, mostly it's just a bunch of self-important windbags who spend billions of dollars on fa ...more
Greg Strandberg
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
I read through the first 50 pages of this book and then skimmed a bit in the back chapters. I wasn't that impressed with the book, both because it was a bit dry and it started a bit further back in history. For me, a bunch of the Cold War stuff was boring. I think the later chapters that give you some financial numbers for closer to our own time are better. ...more
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-rated
A fascinating, horrifying, hilarious story buried under a blizzard of minutiae and acronyms. Not every piece of research needs to go into the book.
George Siehl
A very disquieting read that makes us understand just how complicated life in these United States can be. Granted, a matrix that includes fighting nuclear wars, presidential succession, technology, and political process (just for starters) is bound to be complex. Graff unites these varied topics quite legitimately via the concept of Continuity of Governance, the idea of maintaining a functioning government if events such as nuclear war, a major terrorism event, or even a severe natural disaster ...more
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Graff describes the subterranean bunkers designed to ensure continuity of the U.S. government in case of nuclear, or other, attacks. It's very scary to think about, because he explains it so well. ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Badly in need of an editor. Some sections devolve into lists of names and numbers, which does little to illustrate any point the author may wish to make. And it's a minor thing, but the author provides an obviously incorrect date for the arrest of Soviet/Russia spy Robert Hanssen, and with one such obvious mistake, it makes me wonder how many others there might be which are less obvious. ...more
Mark Fallon
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting, but disturbing book that covers the government's plans to continue their mission in the event of a nuclear war.

What did we find out on 9/11? The plans didn't work.

Will the new, improved plans overcome the shortcomings? Well, they're classified, so we may never find out.
Dillon Clancy
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Fascinating subject matter, but poorly edited and organized. Became a drag about 60% of the way through.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Thematically interesting, but executed with the excitement of a textbook, and strewn with redundant uses of the author's favorite buzzwords like 'war matériel' and 'opening salvo of a nuclear war'. ...more
Ked Dixon
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Long and shockingly dull, given its theme and subtitle. Just a notarized report on the legal and physical construction of these CoG sites. Should be distilled as a wikipedia article.
Jeff Jellets
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it

”It was a strange feeling. You’re there for one purpose — just in case nuclear war happens. But you get over the weird feeling pretty soon, and then you just feel you’re not very needed anymore.”

Garrett M. Graff’s Raven Rock is the thinking man’s history of Civil Defense, the true tale of underground bunkers, COG and COOP planning, shadow government, and ‘mutually assured self-destruction’ political brinksmanship. As someone who’s worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and vi
C.T. Phipps
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
RAVEN ROCK: THE STORY OF THE US GOVERNMENT'S SECRET PLAN TO SAVE ITSELF--WHILE THE REST OF US DIE is an interesting insight into the general insanity of nuclear war from the perspective, not of how to kill more people, but how to save people against weapons that really make it impossible to be saved against. If you're a fan of the FALLOUT games, particularly 3 and New Vegas, then you will probably find this extra enjoyable. The tone is less bleak than black comedy akin to DOCTOR STRANGELOVE.

Alice Lemon
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised by how impressed I was by this book. As someone who's interested in history, logistics, and constitutional trivia, it was very interesting to read so much detail about the history of continuity of government planning, as well as a lot of the historical context for it, up to and including all of the ways that continuity of government plans stumbled when they were partially activated on 9/11.

The book was certainly best described as terrifying at some points. As someone who has no m
Robert Jr.
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Folks don't realize how American politics and the presidency has been shaped by nuclear weapons and the associated need for control, rapid decision-making, and continuity of government. I read this before the pandemic, but interesting to think of in this new context/world we live in. ...more
Jim Brown
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I AM IN AWE. First in the research Garrett Graff did on this book, unbelievable. Secondly, I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and entered the U. S. Coast Guard in 1965 and stayed on active duty until 1985 and frankly, I was 99% unaware of any of the material covered in this book. Raven Rock is a history book that takes the reader BEHIND THE HISTORY WE WERE TAUGHT AND TOLD and reads like a science fiction novel. Graff writes about school children participating in Nuclear Attack Drills; I remember tho ...more
Scott Martin
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an enlightening and disturbing book on many levels. I came to learn a great deal about how the government planned to survive in the event of all out nuclear war. There were many iterations and variations on what would happen, where people would go, who would be priority to save...and who wasn't. Yet, with all the plans and money, it was also apparent that these plans may not have survived first contact with reality. They weren't practiced much, as a major aspect of the plans were to kee ...more
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a decidedly long read - not because of the page count - but because it's so top-heavy with acronyms and fairly obscure jargon.
Raven Rock, as the subtitle makes plain, is the story of the U.S. government's not-so-secret plan to ensure its survival of a nuclear holocaust, at whatever cost.
To me, the most valuable part of this book is that it gives the reader a sense of just how much the development of nuclear weapons has led us down a very deep rabbit hole. In large measure, the Manhattan
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent narrative taking you from the beginnings of Continuity of Government in the Truman administration to the rebirth in the Bush and Obama years. It's interesting to watch the progression as the government first tries to relocate outside of D.C., to mock gentlemen to technology solutions such as naval and airborne retreats. Finally in the Bush and Clinton years, we see the gradual diminishing role of special facilities only to see an abrupt revival after 9/11.

Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
This started out with promise until the writing deteriorated to lists of acronyms and a dry telling of the facts. If you need to understand Cold War history, I’m sure this book is an accurate source. But there is only limited effort on analysis or understanding of the Continuity of Government necessity or level of spending and planning. Although I feel better informed after reading this book, the writing was such that I often used the book to help me fall asleep.
Tony Cavicchi
This book can't be put down. It's a gripping recital of all the ways America prepared for doomsday--with a few glimmers toward what our government may be doing today. From the death of FDR to 9/11, Garrett Graff gives us the stories of each president and each location America's government prepared (or didn't prepare) to survive doomsday. It also reads as the origin story for so much of the 21st century technology we take for granted today--and have no idea originated as doomsday prep. ...more
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Garrett M. Graff, a distinguished magazine journalist and historian, has spent more than a dozen years covering politics, technology, and national security. He’s written for publications from WIRED to Bloomberg BusinessWeek to the New York Times, and served as the editor of two of Washington’s most prestigious magazines, Washingtonian and POLITICO Magazine, which he helped lead to its first Nation ...more

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