The Dead Hand

The Dead Hand : The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy

4.09 (2,720 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

"A "tour de force" of investigative history." --Steve Coll " The Dead Hand" is the suspense-filled story of the people who sought to brake the speeding locomotive of the arms race, then rushed to secure the nuclear and biological weapons left behind by the collapse of the Soviet Union--a dangerous legacy that haunts us even today. The Cold War was an epoch of massive overkill. In the last half of the twentieth century the two superpowers had perfected the science of mass destruction and possessed nuclear weapons with the combined power of a million Hiroshimas. What's more, a Soviet biological warfare machine was ready to produce bacteria and viruses to sicken and kill millions. In "The Dead Hand," a thrilling narrative history drawing on new archives and original research and interviews, David E. Hoffman reveals how presidents, scientists, diplomats, soldiers, and spies confronted the danger and changed the course of history. "The Dead Hand" captures the inside story in both the United States and the Soviet Union, giving us an urgent and intimate account of the last decade of the arms race. With access to secret Kremlin documents, Hoffman chronicles Soviet internal deliberations that have long been hidden. He reveals that weapons designers in 1985 laid a massive "Star Wars" program on the desk of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to compete with President Reagan, but Gorbachev refused to build it. He unmasks the cover-up of the Soviet biological weapons program. He tells the exclusive story of one Soviet microbiologist's quest to build a genetically engineered super-germ--it would cause a mild illness, a deceptive recovery, then a second, fatal attack. And he details the frightening history of the Doomsday Machine, known as the Dead Hand, which would launch a retaliatory nuclear strike if the Soviet leaders were wiped out. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the dangers remained. Soon rickety trains were hauling unsecured nuclear warheads across the Russian steppe; tons of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium lay unguarded in warehouses; and microbiologists and bomb designers were scavenging for food to feed their families. "The Dead Hand" offers fresh and startling insights into Reagan and Gorbachev, the two key figures of the end of the Cold War, and draws colorful, unforgettable portraits of many others who struggled, often valiantly, to save the world from the most terrifying weapons known to man. "From the Hardcover edition."show more

Product details

  • Audio
  • 129.54 x 149.86 x 30.48mm | 226.8g
  • Random House USA Inc
  • Random House US Audio
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Abridged
  • abridged edition
  • 0739384856
  • 9780739384855

Review quote

Praise for "The Dead Hand" “In "The Dead Hand", David Hoffman has uncovered some of the Cold War’s most persistent and consequential secrets—plans and systems designed to wage war with weapons of mass destruction, and even to place the prospective end of civilization on a kind of automatic pilot. The book’s revelations are shocking; its narrative is intelligent and gripping. This is a "tour de force" of investigative history.” —Steve Coll, author of "Ghost Wars" and "The Bin Ladens" “An extraordinary and compelling story, beautifully researched, elegantly told, and full of revelations about the superpower arms race in the dying days of the Cold War. "The Dead Hand "is riveting.”  —Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of "An Army At Dawn" "From the Hardcover edition."show more

About David E Hoffman

David E. 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. He is the author of The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia. To learn more about the author, visit www.davidehoffman.com.show more

Rating details

2,720 ratings
4.09 out of 5 stars
5 36% (983)
4 42% (1,142)
3 18% (482)
2 3% (83)
1 1% (30)
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