Author Christopher Verga and veteran journalist Karl Grossman bring to life the often overlooked history of the Cold War era in Nassau and Suffolk counties with their new book, Cold War: Long Island, printed by Arcadia Publishing.
By the close of World War II, Long Island had transformed from a rural corridor to a suburban behemoth. The region became a nationally recognized manufacturing and innovation hub for the military and possessed one of the fastest-growing middle-class populations in the country. But behind the manicured lawns and cookie-cutter cape homes, locals were adapting to new Cold War conflicts and facing anxieties of a potential nuclear fallout.
“From the vacant buildings of Grumman and Republic Aviation, to the abandoned military barracks of Camp Hero, decades of myths have drowned out the truths of Cold War era Long Island,” Verga said. “Separating the popular urban myths from the truths inspires any historian.”
Secret nuclear missile sites and classified government laboratories were established on the outskirts of Suffolk County, often among unaware residents.
Soviet spy rings traversed across the Island, seeking to steal industry secrets and monitor military installations.
“Retelling this history reminds us that our innovation may be limitless, but our region’s environment comes with limitations,” Verga said. “Our region sent a man to the moon, built planes that broke the sound barrier, built one of the largest suburban developments and created an economic output bigger than multiple states. But while we became the envy of the world, damage to our water table through commercial pollution will create cancer clusters throughout our region.”
Verga is an instructor of Long Island History and Foundations of American History at Suffolk Community College. His published works include Civil Rights Movement on Long Island (Images of America Series), Bay Shore (Images of America Series) and Saving Fire Island from Robert Moses.
Grossman is a full professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. He founded and was the first president of the Press Club of Long Island. He was selected to be in the original class of its Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame. He has also been cited by it as “Long Island Journalist of the Year.”