*The Dead Hand*

The author is David E. Hoffman and the subtitle of this recent Pulitzer winner is The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy.  I recommend it highly, especially if you are too young to have remembered the middle years of the Cold War.  I hadn't thought of this before:

"The Russians sometimes kept submarines off our East Coast with nuclear missiles that could turn the White House into a pile of radioactive rubble within six or eight minutes.  Six minutes to decide how to respond to a blip on a radar scope and decide whether to release Armageddon!  How could anyone apply reason at a time like that?"

That's a quotation from Ronald Reagan.  There's also this bit:

…Guk [a KGB leader] was told that an "important sign" of British preparations for nuclear war would probably be "increased purchases of blood and a rise in the price paid for it" at blood donor centers.  He was ordered to report immediately any changes in blood prices.  

If you want to feel better about today's world, I recommend you read this book.  Until the last section or so, at which point you will feel worse about today's world again.  I shuddered at this sentence:

In the Soviet system, people were under stricter control than the fissile materials.


Comments for this post are closed