The Star Wars Enigma: Behind the Scenes of the Cold War Race for Missile Defense

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The year 1982 was a desperate time for the U.S. defense community. The United States had no effective system to protect itself completely from a Soviet attack with nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, which the Soviet Union possessed in large quantity, and the doomsday philosophy of mutually assured destruction seemed inescapable. But people in the Reagan administration, including Reagan himself, were not content with what they viewed as a morally unacceptable status quo. Then Adm. James Watkins, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked, “Wouldn’t it be better if we could develop a system that would protect, rather than avenge, our people?” With that, the president’s commitment to the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) became certain. Ultimately, SDI reflected Western political idealism, a powerful ingredient in the struggle to finally conquer the terrors of the Cold War and to allay the threat of nuclear holocaust. The Star Wars Enigma tells this dramatic story.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
". . . .an account that neatly balances politics and technology. . . .will not settle the controversy over Star Wars, but it adds a perspective that Cold War scholars should not ignore."

“The best overview to date of what became a major catalyst for change in the 1980s . . . the most coherent account yet of the controversial programme that effectively ended the cold war.”

"Terrific, utterly riveting . . . In The Star Wars Enigma, Nigel Hey . . . provides the clearest, most complete history ever published of the Soviet Union’s own missile-defense programs. And he traces the origins of the idea of strategic defense within our own country’s tightly-knit – but rarely united – community of Cold War scientists including such luminaries as Edward Teller and Gerold Yonas. . . . The real history of Star Wars is just beginning to unfold, and Nigel Hey’s book ought to be required reading for all the world’s leaders."

“A book that contains a wealth of previously unpublished information, including new insights into the secretive Soviet space defense program."

"After a forty-year struggle under a nuclear sword of Damocles, Western civilization triumphed over the Soviet Union and ended the Cold War. In the most rigorous history scholarship yet to appear on this climactic period of history, Nigel Hey defines the critical role played in this historic victory by President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. The Star Wars Enigma traces the origin, the proponents and opponents, and the drama that accompanied the over-turning of American defense strategy and the end of the threat of East-West nuclear holocaust."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597970051
  • Publisher: Potomac Books
  • Publication date: 10/31/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,540,458
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Nigel Hey was a science and technology writer and a senior administrator at Sandia National Laboratories until his retirement in 2001. His long career includes writing four science books, contributing hundreds of articles to such publications as Smithsonian and the London Sunday Times, and working for United Press International. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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