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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (187 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard Rhodes Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb: the story of the entire postwar superpower arms race, climaxing during the Reagan-Gorbachev decade when the United States and the Soviet Union came within scant hours of nuclear war—and then nearly agreed to abolish nuclear weapons.

In a narrative that moves like a thriller, Rhodes sheds light on the Reagan administration’s unprecedented arms buildup in the early 1980s, as well as the arms-reduction campaign that followed, and Reagan’s famous 1986 summit meeting with Gorbachev. Rhodes’s detailed exploration of events of this time constitutes a prehistory of the neoconservatives, demonstrating that the manipulation of government and public opinion with fake intelligence and threat inflation that the administration of George W. Bush has used to justify the current “war on terror” and the disastrous invasion of Iraq were developed and applied in the Reagan era and even before.

Drawing on personal interviews with both Soviet and U.S. participants, and on a wealth of new documentation, memoir literature, and oral history that has become available only in the past ten years, Rhodes recounts what actually happened inthe final years of the Cold War that led to its dramatic end. The story is new, compelling, and continually surprising—a revelatory recreation of a hugely important era of our recenthistory.

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Quotes & Awards

  • One of the 2007 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Scott | 12/28/2013

    " A tremendous, often infuriating, always briskly told history of the USA/USSR nuclear arms race--the whys and hows of the ridiculously mammoth buildup, the tension and close calls it caused, and the eventual massive reduction of both strategic and tactical forces--with an emphasis on the Gorbachev and Reagan years. Richard Rhodes knows how to tell a good anecdote, and is astonishly both brief and clear in relaying this epic. And in case you need two more despicable, smug, self-serving right-wingers to hate, look no further than Paul Nitze and Richard Pearle. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Josh | 12/5/2013

    " Richard Rhodes should stick to science writing. While he can lucidly explain a scientific idea in colloquial terms, he does not have the ability or the stomach to lay out policy arguments, as his moralizing gets in the way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Mk100 | 11/20/2013

    " Rhodes is a wonderful writer, and he makes the complexities of the nuclear arms race understandable and the follies of that race seem almost inevitable, with an internal logic that propelled it forward against what any outside observer would recognize as foolishness. Great quote from Bismarck included: "Fools learn from experience. Wise men learn from the experience of others." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Patrick | 10/25/2013

    " Not his best work, but certainly worth a read. If you understand the cold war in terms of the west, especially Reagan toppling the Soviet Union, then this is a must read. Rhodes paints a pretty scary picture of the Reagan administration, especially the Neo-Cons like Pearle and Cheney whose world views pushed the expansion of the military industrial complex to new frightening heights. The hero of this book is certainly Gorbachev, and Rhodes describes the collapse of the Soviet Union as much more an internal economic matter,rather than with outside interference from the United States. This book gets you thinking about power,politics, the effects of accepted lies, as well as parallels between the Soviet system and ours. Oh yeah, this book also does a superb job of explaining the folly of SDI, the so-called Star Wars initiative, an idea in Reagan's fantasy which almost single-handedly destroyed the peace process that unfolded in the later 1980s. I am a huge fan of this Richard Rhodes-do not be dissuaded by my words at the beginning of this review. Anything by him is meaty, scholarly and vividly rendered. I just feel that other works like "Masters of Death," "Why They Kill?," and "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" are quite simply superior. I would like to meet the man. "

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