The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy
David E. Hoffman, Doubleday, 2009, 577 pp.
The Dead Hand is a stunning and authoritative account of Soviet nuclear and biological weapons programs, arms control negotiations in the Cold War’s last decade, and the urgent attempts by the United States in the succeeding years to stanch the dissemination of weapons and weapons technology as the Soviet Union disintegrated. David Hoffman, contributing editor and former Moscow bureau chief of The Washington Post, has uncovered a remarkable trove of evidence, including more than 10,000 pages of documents from Vitaly Katayev, a Soviet Communist Party Central Committee scribe for nearly 20 years. Enhanced by Hoffman’s interviews of Soviet leaders, key military officers on the General Staff, and scientists responsible for the Soviet Union’s massive clandestine program to develop and produce biological weapons and by his skillful integration of President Ronald Reagan’s diaries, the book provides a brisk and compelling narrative. —GREG THIELMANN
The International Arms Trade
Rachel Stohl and Suzette Grillot, Polity Press, 2009, 278 pp.
Authors Rachel Stohl of Chatham House and Suzette Grillot of the University of Oklahoma survey a wide array of topics related to conventional arms trade in this new work. The book starts with a historical overview that cites Thucydides but quickly advances to the opportunities to curb arms trading in the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the dramatic expansion of weapons transfers since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Although Stohl and Grillot openly advocate restraint, they carefully lay out the rationale for the legal trade in arms, providing extra details on the export control systems of key states. They also tackle the illicit arms market, noting the difficulties that incomplete data create but nonetheless reaching conclusions about the impact of legal and illicit trade on national and human security. Final chapters focus on efforts and recommendations for controlling arms trade at international, regional, national, local, and nongovernmental levels. The concise text, which makes a good introduction and reference guide, is supplemented by nearly 60 pages of notes and bibliographic information for readers who would like to dig more deeply. —JEFF ABRAMSON
South Asia at a Crossroads: Conflict or Cooperation in the Age of Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defense, and a Space Race?
Subrata Ghoshroy and Götz Neuneck, eds., 2010, 330 pp.
This book, based on a 2009 conference, presents a range of viewpoints on South Asian, specifically Indian-Pakistani, security issues. Chapters are organized around major issue areas, such as the implications of the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal, and each contains several short pieces based on individual conference presentations. The longest and most in-depth chapter concerns missile defense, a topic that the introduction singles out as deserving of special attention. Subrata Ghoshroy lays out the history of the Indian missile defense program, saying, “Indian scientists can be justifiably proud of their accomplishments, but…an effective ABM [anti-ballistic missile] system would require a big leap from conducting a few successful tests.” Moeed Yusuf and Khalid Banuri describe the Pakistani perspective, which aims to limit the deployment of missile defenses in South Asia. —ERIC AUNER
Disclosure: Oliver Meier, international correspondent for Arms Control Today, wrote one of the book’s chapters.