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The Dead Hand: Reagan, Gorbachev and the Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race [Paperback]

David E. Hoffman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Nov 2011
This book is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction 2010. The first full account of how the Cold War arms race finally came to a close, this riveting narrative history sheds new 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 deep inside the Kremlin, David 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 fascinating story of how Reagan, Gorbachev, and a previously unheralded collection of scientists, soldiers, diplomats, and spies changed the course of history.

Frequently Bought Together

The Dead Hand: Reagan, Gorbachev and the Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race + The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War (Penguin Classics) + Gorbachev's Gamble: Soviet Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War
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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (3 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848312997
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848312999
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 205,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A stunning feat of research and narrative. Terrifying.' -- John le Carre "The Dead Hand' is a brilliant work of history, a richly detailed, gripping tale that takes us inside the Cold war arms race as no other book has...a story so riveting and scary that you feel like you are reading a fictional thriller.' -- Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of 'Imperial Life in the Emerald City' 'This is a tour de force of investigative history.' -- Steve Coll 'An extraordinary achievement.' -- Sir Michael Dobbs 'Authoritative and chilling ... a readable, many-tentacled account of the decades-long military standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union ... The Dead Hand is deadly serious, but this story can verge on pitch-black comedy - Dr. Strangelove as updated by the Coen Brothers.' New York Times -- New York Times 'A thought-provoking book which reads like a thriller. A gripping chronicle of the second half of the last century and a brilliant analysis of the single strategic conflict that more than any other shaped today's world.' -- Gordon Thomas, author of 'Inside British Intelligence and Gideon's Spies' 'I found 'The Dead Hand' extremely stimulating. As a Foreign Office Minister I was involved in Gorbachev's meeting with Margaret Thatcher; and as Defence Secretary from 1992-95 I was very much associated with the safe removal of post-Soviet states' nuclear weapons. This book is an excellent history of that period.' -- Sir Malcolm Rifkind, MP 'This book, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction and is soon to be published in the UK, is in the best traditions of American long-form reportage... Key characters are evoked in enough detail to make us care and then carry the narrative through to the end. It involves simplifications and elisions: but in this case, these are less important than the horrified fascination Hoffman - a former Washington Post Moscow correspondent, later foreign editor - succeeds in rousing through a story at once journalistically detailed and morally alive.' -- John Lloyd, FT 'Hoffman's magisterial, human, vividly readable account of a remarkable time doesn't stop in 1991.' -- Peter Preston, Guardian '[Hoffman] has compiled a fascinating narrative of the last phase of the cold war and the era of Mikhail Gorbachev, glasnost and perestroika, which ended amid the collapse of the Soviet Union.' -- Max Hastings, Sunday Times 'This is an important well-written volume that makes a major contribution to our understanding of the last decade of the Cold War and its aftermath.' -- Christopher Andrew, Literary Review '['The Dead Hand'] has important things to say... It is exceptionally well informed. Anyone interested in the Cold War will learn something new from this fascinating, if rather depressing, read.' -- BBC History Magazine 'If you like your history told James Bond style, you'll love this book.' -- Daily Telegraph 'David E. Hoffman bagged a Pulitzer for 'The Dead Hand: Reagan, Gorbachev and the Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race' (Icon Books, ac;11.99). The book reads with the pace of a political thriller and includes wonderful insight into the relationship between the Cold War's two central characters who managed to pull their empires back from the brink at a time when they shared an arms arsenal with the explosive power of 1 million Hiroshimas.' -- Irish Examiner

About the Author

David Hoffman is a contributing editor at the Washington Post, where he previously served as White House correspondent, Moscow bureau chief, and assistant managing editor for foreign news.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Big Jim TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a remarkable book, ifonly for it's sheer readability, with insights aplenty many gained from those who were there. This could have been a dry and scholarly tome but this is anything but. Even though you know the ending as it were and are no doubt aware of the brinkmanship that went on over the Cuban Missile Crisis etc, there are many new angles explored in this book and some startling new (to me at least)revelations. For example it looks like the world wasn't that far from some sort of germ warfare related nonsense and it was only defections to the West that helped prevent this reaching some sort of disastrous conclusion. I am usually wary of prize winning books, but the Pulitzer prize is rarely, if ever, given to something that doesn't deserve it and I have found many of the books that win the prize for general non-fiction to be very readable as well as informative, "The Prize", "A bright Shining lie" and "Guns germs and steel" for example. This book is a worthy addition to that list.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By Big Jim TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This is a remarkable book, ifonly for it's sheer readability, with insights aplenty many gained from those who were there. This could have been a dry and scholarly tome but this is anything but. Even though you know the ending as it were and are no doubt aware of the brinkmanship that went on over the Cuban Missile Crisis etc, there are many new angles explored in this book and some startling new (to me at least)revelations. For example it looks like the world wasn't that far from some sort of germ warfare related nonsense and it was only defections to the West that helped prevent this reaching some sort of disastrous conclusion. I am usually wary of prize winning books, but the Pulitzer prize is rarely, if ever, given to something that doesn't deserve it and I have found many of the books that win the prize for general non-fiction to be very readable as well as informative, "The Prize", "A bright Shining lie" and "Guns germs and steel" for example. This book is a worthy addition to that list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good run through, interesting details 23 Oct 2013
By Seymour
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good background detail on the events of the time. Interesting insight into murky world of bio-weapons.
Portrayals of Reagan and Gorbachev very flat and Hollywood-ish - no real critique of their personalities - can they be both really that nice? Glosses over background to split up of Soviet Union, leaving out some interesting details of Gorbachev's final days. Overall - worth the read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read 14 May 2012
By KatieHW
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As an A-Level History student studying the Cold War, I found I needed more than just textbooks to help me understand the topic, and this book was excellent in helping me to envisage the events that took place at the end of the Cold War. Although not all of book was completely relevant for my course, it was great to have so much background information, and I found it particularly interesting to read such detailed insights into the characters of both Reagan and Gorbachev. Not too difficult to read, exciting to learn, and one of the first history books I've finished without nodding off somewhere in the middle!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding..... 31 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hoffman's "Dead Hand" is a fantastical easy read. I wonderful account of the final decade of the Cold War. A truly enjoyable book.

"Dead Hand" documents the unseen side of the arms race as it reached its pinnacle. The Reagan administrations aggressive pursuit of SDI coupled with the deployment of the agile Pershing II missile was a real worry for the Soviet High Command. Yet despite this stance by the US, Reagan was all but desperate to meet face to face with the Soviets leaders and convince them that nuclear weapons should be eliminated !!

A real interesting part of the book describes the complete inconsistency of the Soviet Union's radar coverage which led to the shooting down of flight KAL007, another area of interest covered. Hoffman really captures the total paranoia of the communists and their constant belief that the United States were really planning a first strike strategy against the Soviet Union.

However, the best aspect of the book is the in depth coverage of the Soviet biological weapons programme. A huge amount of detail concerning not only battlefield weapons but also a plan to use biological weapons in a strategic capacity. The collapse of the USSR also led to the inability to account for all the left over weapons grade material as well as the biological germs scattered across several national borders. These materials were completely lacking any security cordon and were literally available to anyone who passed by.

A must for any person interested in Cold War history.
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