AUTHORHoffman, E. David
TITLEThe Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy
PUBLISHERDoubleday
CITYNew York, NY
DATE PUBLISHED2009
ISBN978-0-385-52437-7


This narrative of the Cold War period incorporates both U.S. and Soviet perspectives in an effort to show how the arms race escalated into a “competition of colossal excess” (p. 24) and how key players, mainly Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, brought it to a close. The author makes use of a collection of previously unavailable internal documents from the Defense Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which provide valuable, new insights into the mindset of Soviet leaders during the Gorbachev years. After an introductory overview of the arms race from 1947 to 1991, the narrative begins with the heightened period of confrontation in 1983 and concludes with revelations of nuclear and biological weapons facilities in the former Soviet Union in the late 1990s. The author, a reporter with experience in Moscow and Washington, addresses the development of both nuclear and biological weapons as well as delivery systems by both nations. The negotiations involving arms reduction agreements and treaties are important components of the tale, as is the fact that lethal weapons – the legacy of the Cold War – still haunt the world long after the demise of their creators.


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