Gail's Reviews > The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy

The Dead Hand by David E. Hoffman
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Mar 13, 14

Read in April, 2012

The Cold War seems both so recent and so long ago. This book brought back memories of the day to day events and the feelings they engendered. It was a fascinating summary of the diplomacy that brought down Communism in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. The back and forth of arms negotiations which did result in a reduction of nuclear weapons were revealing. Gorbachev come across as the major hero (at least to me) for being willing to make major changes in his system of government, though he seems a tragic figure as his country falls apart geographically and its economy collapses. The author has more appreciation for Reagan than I do and George HW Bush comes across pretty badly. He devotes a lot of space to biological weapons, which the Soviet Union continued to produce in vast quantities long after a treaty banning them. Uncounted stocks of nuclear components, biological and chemical weapons that remained as the Soviet Union broke up were appallingly tended; who knows what happened to some of them. This book also has interesting profiles of many of the scientists involved in the biological weapons programs and what happened to them. I would recommend it both to someone who lived though the events and to someone for whom it seems like ancient history.
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