The Dead Hand – press release
THE DEAD HAND
Reagan, Gorbachev and the Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race
David E. Hoffman
PUBLICATION DATE: 3 FEBRUARY 2011
£20 ● Hardback ● ISBN 978-184831-230-2
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR GENERAL NON-FICTION 2010
COVERAGE EMBARGOED UNTIL PUBLICATION
AUTHOR IN UK FOR PUBLICITY FROM 8-11 FEBRUARY 2011.
EVENTS INCLUDE LSE, FRONTLINE CLUB, BIRMINGHAM AND OXFORD UNIVERSITIES
“A stunning feat of research and narrative. Terrifying” John Le Carré
“The Dead Hand is a brilliant work of history, a richly detailed, gripping tale that takes us inside the Cold war arms race as no other book has…a story so riveting and scary that you feel like you are reading a fictional thriller.”
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City
“This is a tour de force of investigative history.” Steve Coll
“An extraordinary achievement.” Michael Dobbs
“Authoritative and chilling…Dr Strangelove as updated by the Coen brothers.” New York Times
On Wednesday, April 4th, 1979, Margarita Ilyenko, chief physician at a hospital in Sverdlovsk, a Soviet industrial metropolis in the Ural Mountains, received notification of the deaths of two patients presenting symptoms that seemed like severe (and rare) pneumonia. These two deaths marked the beginning of an anthrax epidemic that killed more than sixty people. The official line maintained that infected meat had caused the outbreak, but those working in the hospital were convinced the disease was airborne, that something more sinister was being covered up. Less than a mile away stood Compound 19, a closed military microbiology facility run by the 15th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defence. It compromised a laboratory, development and testing centre for deadly pathogens, including anthrax. The truth was never established.
THE DEAD HAND is the critically acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative history of Reagan, Gorbachev and the dying days of the Cold War – and the dangerous inheritance of nuclear and biological weapons the Soviet Union left behind. This suspense-laden story captures the startling inside story in both the USA and the Soviet Union, unmasking the cover up of a Soviet biological warfare machine ready to produce bacteria and viruses to kill millions, and the refusal of Gorbachev in 1985 to compete in Reagan’s massive “Star Wars” weaponry programme. Hoffman also tells the little-known story of the Soviet semi-automatic retaliatory system known as the Dead Hand, a Doomsday Device that would leave the fate of Earth in the hands of three surviving duty officers buried deep underground in a concrete, globe-shaped bunker.
THE DEAD HAND which draws on news archives, interviews and classified Kremlin documents, offers the first full account of the final decade of the Cold War, and the struggle that finally bought it to its knees. It is a compelling narrative history which rediscovers the characters who battled to bring an end to an era that possessed weapons with the combined power of more than a million Hiroshimas, and examines the threatening nuclear, biological and chemical legacies that remain with us today.
What sets THE DEAD HAND apart from other Cold War history books is that it tells the story from both sides, East and West. It is also based on new information from inside the Kremlin, including a lot of new material on Gorbachev’s difficult decisions. David Hoffman exposes Reagan and Gorbachev’s inner motivations and undisclosed decisions, and details the massive deadly stockpiles that lurked, unsecured, throughout the Soviet Union after its collapse. Hoffman’s study moves beyond the leaders, and gives us unforgettable portraits of a previously unheralded group of scientists, soldiers, diplomats and spies whose valiant struggle changed the course of history.
DAVID E HOFFMAN served for 27 years as a reporter and editor at The Washington Post. He covered the White House during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and was subsequently diplomatic correspondent and Jerusalem correspondent. From 1995 to 2001, he was Moscow bureau chief, and later foreign editor and assistant managing editor for foreign news.
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