Book: The Dead Hand – The Untold Story of the Cold War…

I haven’t posted a book review in a while. Not because I haven’t been reading, just because I’ve been lazy. My most recent book was The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy by David Hoffman.

I had heard about this book in a mention on a National People’s Radio story about Ronald Reagan. In that story the book was presented as a story about Reagan and how he really didn’t have as much to do with ending the cold-war as people thought. Being a child of the Regan era and a huge fan I figured “better read this; nothing worse than being ignorant.”

Turns out Reagan is a relatively small player in this book. It does cover his impact on relations (or lack thereof) with the Soviets during his administration, but I failed to see how the book argued for/against how big an impact Ronnie actually had. It was fairly factual and contained some details of interesting conversations Reagan had with his Soviet counterparts. It covered his desire to build the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) aka Star Wars, but as it did so the book illustrated how Reagan was not a Hawk as he has often been portrayed, but someone deeply convicted about ridding the world of Nuclear weapons.

What this book does do is show how frakingly close we all came to being blown to smithereens, and how significantly the two sides were really doing nothing but talk past each other.  It also illustrates, in shocking detail, how large and dangerous the Soviet investment in biological warfare research and production was (and is?).

The writing is solid. At times it feels as though the book was pieced together without an editor, but the insights and intrigue keep it exciting. Highly recommended.

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