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The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold…

The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its… (2009)

by David Hoffman

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Wow, what a book. Great history, very well told. Reminded me of a David McCullough book where history is told in a series of inter-related stories across a wide time arc. Incredible. I had taken a break from reading history and this was a pleasant welcome back surprise. Schultz was interesting, Reagan was impressive but remains an enigma, Gorbachev was tragic and heroic, Gates and Bush (1) were disappointing (surprisingly and repeatedly), Nunn and Luger were pros and unsung statesman of the world. VERY scary stuff and I can't help but think we can't stay this lucky forever. ( )
  Charlie-Ravioli | Jan 18, 2016 |
I listened to this book on mp3.

I expected a relatively balanced history of the cold war. However, the author allocated roughly the same amount of time to the entire history of the cold war prior to President Reagan as he did for each year of the Reagan presidency. The author appears to be a huge fan of the late President.

Also, in the introduction the author led me to believe that the work was more balanced between USSR and US points of view. I felt that it was more like 80% US versus 20% USSR points of view.

So if you want to read a history of the cold war from the US point of view during the Reagan years then I highly recommend this book. If you want to read an entire history of the cold war then I suggest looking elsewhere. ( )
  okrick | Nov 23, 2015 |
A fantastic overview of the '80s and '90s of Cold War nuclear politics, with chilling information about the biological and chemical programs undergone by the USSR at the same time. ( )
  gregorybrown | Oct 18, 2015 |
Good history of Cold War from around 1980 to 2000.

Lots of little known info on nuclear command control and disarmament issues. The chem bio stuff is downright terrifying when you realize much of the stockpile either still exists or can easily be made by anyone with right materials.

Recommend ( )
  dham340 | May 10, 2015 |
Useful survey, easily read. Weak on Gorbachev, under the spell. And now we are back again: Russia secretive, aggressive, using nuclear weapons for startegic messaging in a deeply irresponsible manner, ( )
  Hauge | Mar 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
A readable, many-tentacled account of the decades-long military standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union... What’s particularly valuable about Mr. Hoffman’s book, is the skill with which he narrows his focus (and his indefatigable reporting) down to a few essential areas.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385524374, Hardcover)

“A tour de force of investigative history.” —Steve Coll

The Dead Hand
is the suspense-filled story of the people who sought to brake the speeding locomotive of the arms race, then rushed to secure the nuclear and biological weapons left behind by the collapse of the Soviet Union—a dangerous legacy that haunts us even today.

The Cold War was an epoch of massive overkill. In the last half of the twentieth century the two superpowers had perfected the science of mass destruction and possessed nuclear weapons with the combined power of a million Hiroshimas. What’s more, a Soviet biological warfare machine was ready to produce bacteria and viruses to sicken and kill millions. In The Dead Hand, a thrilling narrative history drawing on new archives and original research and interviews, David E. Hoffman reveals how presidents, scientists, diplomats, soldiers, and spies confronted the danger and changed the course of history.

The Dead Hand captures the inside story in both the United States and the Soviet Union, giving us an urgent and intimate account of the last decade of the arms race. With access to secret Kremlin documents, Hoffman chronicles Soviet internal deliberations that have long been hidden. He reveals that weapons designers in 1985 laid a massive “Star Wars” program on the desk of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to compete with President Reagan, but Gorbachev refused to build it. He unmasks the cover-up of the Soviet biological weapons program. He tells the exclusive story of one Soviet microbiologist’s quest to build a genetically engineered super-germ—it would cause a mild illness, a deceptive recovery, then a second, fatal attack. And he details the frightening history of the Doomsday Machine, known as the Dead Hand, which would launch a retaliatory nuclear strike if the Soviet leaders were wiped out.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the dangers remained. Soon rickety trains were hauling unsecured nuclear warheads across the Russian steppe; tons of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium lay unguarded in warehouses; and microbiologists and bomb designers were scavenging for food to feed their families.

The Dead Hand offers fresh and startling insights into Reagan and Gorbachev, the two key figures of the end of the Cold War, and draws colorful, unforgettable portraits of many others who struggled, often valiantly, to save the world from the most terrifying weapons known to man.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:11 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The first full account of how the Cold War arms race finally came to a close, this narrative history sheds light on the people who struggled to end this era of massive overkill, and examines the legacy of the nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that remain a threat today. Drawing on memoirs, interviews in both Russia and the US, and classified documents from inside the Kremlin, David E. Hoffman examines the inner motives and secret decisions of each side and details the deadly stockpiles that remained unsecured as the Soviet Union collapsed. This is the story of how Reagan, Gorbachev, and a previously unheralded collection of scientists, soldiers, diplomats, and spies changed the course of history. --From publisher's description.… (more)

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