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on April 12, 2015
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Great value
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on March 19, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Absolute best review ever of USSR death spiral and continuing dangers today from similar mind-set within Russian government.
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on February 22, 2015
Format: Paperback
Great, love it. Thank you :-)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2015
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book about the Cold War and the weapons (nuclear, chemical, and biological) that were created to fight it. There is particular attention paid to the 1980s when Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan presided over a thawing of relations between the two superpowers. Having grown up in the 1970s and 80s when the cold war was the bogeyman every child feared - when elementary-school-aged kids practiced nuclear response drills, and when quite a few people had personal bomb shelters installed, I found it a fascinating read. More specifically, what I found fascinating was how little I actually knew about the subject matter, even though it pertains to a period of time that I lived through, and events that I can remember. In retrospect, all I can say is that I'm glad I was blissfully unaware of most of what went on.

One thing I found interesting about the book is that as I read it, my sympathies changed from one superpower to the other. At first, I was at first quite sympathetic to Mr. Gorbachev and the USSR. Throughout most of the 1980s, the US behaved provocatively. We escalated the arms race by deploying missiles in Europe and refused to participate in a nuclear test-ban treaty. We pursued the so called "strategic defense initiative," which threatened to open a new frontier in the arms-race, and we engaged in deliberately provocative military exercises. All this in spite of the fact that Mr. Gorbachev was extending multiple olive branches, and in spite of the fact that the USSR was crumbling from within. Had I been president at the time, I would have engaged the USSR in constructive dialog immediately. Rather than kicking them while they were down, I'd have extended a hand of friendship.

But that might well have been the wrong thing to do. As I read further, I learned that the USSR -with at least tacit approval from Gorbachev - was engaged in covert chemical and biological weapons development through the early 1990s - in direct violation of international treaties. Even as they were preaching disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, the USSR was developing and weaponizing super-germs. This was not a trustworthy partner. I began to think that President Regan may have been right to be a hardliner (and I make this admission as a fairly liberal guy). Ultimately, it's not possible to say what results a more engaged strategy would have produced. Would we today be living in a world with fewer weapons? Or would we have simply given away the farm? Did Reagan's hardline policies shorten the Cold War or extend it? Reasonable people can disagree.

What I think cannot be disputed is that in the aftermath of the Cold War, the United States failed to move aggressively enough in assisting the USSR to shore-up weapons of mass destruction. As the USSR imploded, the chain of custody for the weapons they had built crumbled along with it. Tons of nuclear material and weaponized germs - along with some of the scientists who knew how to build them - became available to the highest bidder. The danger this posed (and continues to pose today) cannot be overstated. Had we spent even a tiny fraction of our annual defense budget in preventative non-proliferation measures, we'd be far safer today. This aspect of our Cold War legacy, I knew - even before reading the book...but Mr. Hoffman makes this missed opportunity all the more clear.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a wonderful real, life story of intrigue during the cold war .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
An untold story that we all kind of knew was true. Very troubling that this has all moved from the Cold War to tomorrow's headlines.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Fascinating read. Eye-opening account on the Soviet stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biologic weapons and the behind-the-scenes negotiations to inspect and secure these arsenals after the USSR breakup. The author points out that in today's terrorist climate the threat of WMDs, especially frightening bio-weapons, still exists, both in Putin's Russia and the expanding world of jihad.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I recommend this book to anyone who studies the Cold War. I was fascinated by this book. "Fascinated" is really not the word...amazed, horrified, creepy. Those are words more appropriate to the contents of this work as it relates to the Soviet biological and chemical warfare industry and the efforts to conceal the magnitude of the programs from all countries as well as its own citizens. Somehow, the nuclear aspects of the book pale in comparison to the stuff about germs and gases. How downright weird is that? I suppose it's the diabolical nature of the bio and gas weapons that freak me out, whereas, the nuclear weapons capabilities of the USSR seem more straight forward and somehow more comprehensible. Nukes were far more immediately fatal to us here in America and to our allies. However, the other stuff this criminal regime was planning to use on us was designed to kill the entire population as opposed to destroying our ability to retaliate against them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Starts slow but ramps up fairly quickly. Lots of good impressions about the cold war that, although I lived through nearly all of it , pretty much escaped my attention or conscious thought. It was fascinating to discover the "behind the scenes" intrigue and maneouvering by Reagan and the Soviets as revealed in the book. Clearly a lot of research was done to assemble this good read.
Definitely recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The "Cold War" was intregueing and extremely dangerous. The research to get the information necessary to write The Dead Hand, and the skill of the author David Hoffman putting all this together in a throughly enjoyable read. I lived through the Cold War and didn't realize we were so close to oblivion. This history is alpplicable to todays world of intrigue, deception, weapons, and the threat of Atomic Warfare by people of ill will.
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