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Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race Paperback – November 4, 2008
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Beginning with the accident at Chernobyl in 1986 and covering the history of both the United States and Russia as they became involved in their nuclear war dance throughout the latter part of the 20th century, Rhodes uses information demonstrating that the disinformation that we've seen within government recently to shape public opinion has been going on for the last 40 years (big surprise!) creating circumstances that allowed the arms race to escalate out of control. Rhodes begins with Chernobyl (later covering the history of detente and the roles of various presidents before Reagan and Gorbachov sat down to try and rid the world of nuclear arms)because the plant itself was designed to do dual duty as both a reactor and a source of plutonium for weapons. The accident changed Gorbachov's perspective on the destruction that could result from a nuclear device simply because the damage to the environment and human life from Chernobyl was life a small nuclear device going off. This opened the way for more open and honest discussion on how to reduce the world's nuclear arsenal.Read more ›
The book begins promisingly enough with a compelling account of the Chernobyl disaster, but then it becomes a repeat of various memoirs from various members of the Regan administration and Mikhail Gorbachev. Unlike the two previous book, Rhodes does not do a great job of synthesizing the information and presenting it as its own. This seems to be nothing more than reheated left overs.
The far more promising concept and what Rhodes fans were expecting was a history of the development of Nuclear Weapons, far more history on the SALT and START talks and the development of delivery vehicles. The background history of the poor state of the Soviet economy was very good and more attention should have been placed on it, but sadly that was focused on details of the Geneva meeting place.
All in all this was a tough read and for certain is the third of Richard Rhodes three books on the development of the nuclear arms race.
In this book which can be considered the third installment in his nuclear histories (a fourth and final one is also due), Rhodes takes a step further and covers the arms race from the 1950s onwards. He essentially proceeds where he left off, and discusses the maddening arms buildups of the 60s, 70s and 80s. One of the questions our future generations are going to ask is; why do we have such a monstrous legacy of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, enough to destroy the earth many times over? The answer cannot be deterrence because much fewer would have sufficed for that. How did we inherit this evil of our times?
Much of the book is devoted to answering this question, and the answer is complex. It involves a combination of paranoia generated by ignorance of what the other side was doing, but more importantly threat inflation engendered by hawks in government who used the Soviet threat as a political selling point in part to further their own aims and careers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Anything RR writes is generally going to be vastly superior to any other non-fiction writer simply because he's that good. Read morePublished 3 months ago by L. S.
very informative, I learned a lot about operation desert shield'Published 3 months ago by John Gluckman
The third of a tetralogy by Rhodes on the atomic bomb and the arms race, this volume is devoted to the cold war and the machinations that prodded us several times to the brink of... Read morePublished 5 months ago by ddomer
Underwhelming and slow. Not nearly as engaging as his other books.Published 6 months ago by John Millerd
This book is an interesting telling of the end of the Cold War, especially as it relates to the nuclear arsenals of the US and the Soviet Union. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Well written (I listened to an audiobook via the library), but I didn't buy the central message. I really hoped for an in-depth reveal of complex cold war entanglements. Read morePublished 10 months ago by I. Portscheller
Every page is worth reading. Insight-rich, especially regarding the current day. If you want to understand American politics of the Post WW2 decades, Rhodes's book are... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Michael Taft
The book explained a lot about what really happened. Surprising as to who was the ones trying and the ones not.Published 12 months ago by Joseph R. Gobell