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

by David E. Hoffman

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6371937,427 (3.97)31
During the Cold War, superpowers amassed nuclear arsenals containing the explosive power of one million Hiroshimas. The Soviet Union secretly plotted to create the "Dead Hand," a system designed to launch an automatic retaliatory nuclear strike on the United States, and developed a fearsome biological warfare machine. President Ronald Reagan, hoping to awe the Soviets into submission, pushed hard for the creation of space-based missile defenses. This, the first full account of how the arms race finally ended, provides an unprecedented look at the inner motives and secret decisions of each side. Drawing on top-secret documents from deep inside the Kremlin, memoirs, and interviews in both Russia and the United States, David Hoffman introduces the scientists, soldiers, diplomats, and spies who saw the world sliding toward disaster and tells the gripping story of how Reagan, Gorbachev, and many others struggled to bring the madness to an end.--From publisher description.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
A great book for Cold War historians. Similar to "One Minute to Midnight" in that it's amazing in hindsight to realize how much the US and USSR misunderstood each other. Hoffman writes that the USSR concealed massive biological and chemical weapons programs that only came to light recently even though they denied having these programs. His writing about these weapons and the nuclear weapons that were basically left lying around when the USSR dissolved is scary...almost to the point where it's remarkable we're still around at all. Makes great points about Reagan and Gorbachev not being nearly as deal-making on strategic arms as we believe. ( )
  Jeff.Rosendahl | Sep 21, 2021 |
This was a well researched and very detailed description of the war footing, politics, nuclear arsenals and hidden programs for weapons of mass destruction of the U.S.S.R. during the cold war period. It contains extensive descriptions of the Soviet leaders and key players during the period, however I would have been more satisfied if the details were condensed a little more. ( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
non fiction. Cold War and subsequent proliferation of WMDs.

Holy crap, this is some serious shit. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (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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During the Cold War, superpowers amassed nuclear arsenals containing the explosive power of one million Hiroshimas. The Soviet Union secretly plotted to create the "Dead Hand," a system designed to launch an automatic retaliatory nuclear strike on the United States, and developed a fearsome biological warfare machine. President Ronald Reagan, hoping to awe the Soviets into submission, pushed hard for the creation of space-based missile defenses. This, the first full account of how the arms race finally ended, provides an unprecedented look at the inner motives and secret decisions of each side. Drawing on top-secret documents from deep inside the Kremlin, memoirs, and interviews in both Russia and the United States, David Hoffman introduces the scientists, soldiers, diplomats, and spies who saw the world sliding toward disaster and tells the gripping story of how Reagan, Gorbachev, and many others struggled to bring the madness to an end.--From publisher description.

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