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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive account of the Cold War and its relevance today
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...
Published on 16 Nov. 2011 by Big Jim

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good run through, interesting details
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...
Published 18 months ago by Seymour


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good run through, interesting details, 23 Oct. 2013
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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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive account of the Cold War and its relevance today, 16 Nov. 2011
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive account of Cold War and its relevance today, 8 Feb. 2011
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, 14 May 2012
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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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding....., 31 Mar. 2012
By 
Mr. D. J. Walford (Lancashire, England) - See all my reviews
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book. I'd expected most of it to be ..., 25 Jan. 2015
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Fantastic book. I'd expected most of it to be about the Dead Hand itself, but was pleasantly surprised when I discovered how much more it covered. An insightful read on a surrealistic part of humanity's recent history. I'll definitely use this book as a reference in future studies.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, breathtaking and freakily scary, 13 May 2013
Gripped me from beginning to end! A rip roaring, terrifying, thrilling ride through real life - you couldn't make it up. Better than any book I've ever read in unveiling the lies and duplicitous reality of international relationships during the Cold War. Utterly brilliant.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, insightful and terrying, 4 May 2013
This is a large book, but reads much like a much smaller thriller. That's not to say its light on detail or research because it most certainly isn't. An excellent book that is a must for students of history and especially the Cold War.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming and Unconvincing, 1 May 2014
By 
Mr. T. Philipson (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. So far so predictable, yet we get little or nothing on the ‘characters’ who played key roles in the ‘western’ cold war endeavour – men such as Curtis LeMay, James Jesus Angleton and Richard Pipes, who were at times deceitful, alarmingly shrill and bellicose in their attitudes towards the Soviets, with potentially appalling global consequences.
Although books such as this purport to be ‘histories’, they are in fact often little more than crude ‘lessons of history’ narratives where all roads inevitably lead to free-market liberal capitalism. In attempting to arrive at this predetermined conclusion we are inevitably subjected to a slavish cause and effect: a barbarous Soviet is little more than an inevitable product of the ‘Evil Empire’ which spawned him after all. In denigrating the ‘conformity [which] suffocated public discussion’ in the Soviet Union (p.204) Hoffman fails to acknowledge exactly the same ‘conformity’ that equally stifled much ‘public discussion’ in the west (Vietnam, Chile, Iran-Contra, Iraq etc), and which has increasingly led to the absurdity of the politics of patriotism and the flag pin-badge. There is much truth in Gorbachev’s pointed remark that he was dealing with ‘political dregs’ throughout much of his brief flirtation with the Americans (p.275), and the real victors of the era of the ‘Dead Hand’ proved to be the self-same political cowboys that had multiplied and prospered like bacilli during the period itself. If Hoffman genuinely believes that a country which will doggedly fight to preserve the right of the uninsured poor to die un-mourned whilst indulging in aggressive and ruinously expensive foreign policy adventures in order to assert American hegemony can produce the political will to engage in ‘liberal compromise’ over arms limitations then he is either a fool or a knave – neither of which makes him an appropriate authority to write an objective history of the Cold War arms race.
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Like Hard Work, 23 May 2011
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I am two thirds of the way through this book and although some of the facts are interesting (there has been plenty of research done) and the information divulged sometimes frightening this is not an easy read and reading it has become a bit of a task rather than a pleasure. There is a lot of repetition of statistics, a lot of strange Russian names and not really a very powerful narrative. I was looking for a book which gave me an insight into the Reagan/Gorbachev relationship (If indeed there was one) and up to now this has not been the case. I will plough on to the end but I am not hopeful that the final third of the book will greatly enlighten me.

I have now finished the book and although the pace does pick up somewhat in the final third I was not inclined to change the tone, the title or the rating of the review. The book is not about a relationship between Reagan/Gorbachev and I suspect that the author has been under some pressure from the Publisher with regard to the book title. I aso found it most odd that the book refers several times to Doctor David Kelly (UK) but does not mention anything about his death under the strangest of circumstances.

There is information in this book that should be given a public airing but overall I felt that I had not been provided with what was promised on the cover.
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