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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.

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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: 226,794 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
1.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming and Unconvincing 1 May 2014
Format:Hardcover
This is a truly depressing book. Not so much due to the subject matter – though nuclear, chemical and biological warfare is pretty nightmarish – but rather in the way it constructs a narrative of a particular historical period which is unashamedly subjective yet shielded behind a thin veneer of objectivity. From the off we are primed for the ‘excellence’ within – the Pulitzer Prize reference and adulatory reviews which adorn the jacket – and from this overture we move into a 500 page odyssey which retells the cold war as essentially a 1950’s B-Movie Western, in which the noble and honourable Americans prevail over the ruthless and deceitful Soviets. The metaphor is rather apt, as the author’s hero (not too strong a word I think) is clearly Reagan – himself little more than a broken down actor who presided over an increasingly unequal society domestically whilst restoring the power of the military industrial complex and the hawkish elements of the American establishment which supported it. The maxim that how you see the past depends on where you stand could not be more apt, and so this parable of virtue winds on to its inevitable conclusions, where right conquers might and we can all sleep safe in our beds in the knowledge that Sheriff Uncle Sam protects and preserves all that (right minded) people hold dear. The result of this jaundiced and myopic historical approach is an unsurprising yet pedestrian litany of Soviet bogey men seeking no less than a global massacre of the innocents. Read more ›
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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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