Pulitzer Prize winner Rhodes (Ctr. for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford Univ.) completes his third volume of works related to the Cold War nuclear buildup (following The Making of the Atomic Bomband Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb). Combining a riveting narrative with historical data, his work reads like a novel but chronicles the truth of the U.S. and Soviet Union buildup and ultimate takedown of nuclear arms. Detailing the professional careers of Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, and many other Soviet and American officials, Rhodes takes us to the pivotal Reykjavík Summit in 1986 and the ensuing drama, leading ultimately to the end of the arms buildup and the end of the Cold War détente between the two superpowers. This historical record, drawing upon many firsthand accounts and interviews, details pivotal events in world history and should be necessary reading for anyone interested in 20th-century history. Recommended, particularly for academic libraries, but also for larger public libraries.
“A gripping narrative of the paranoia, cynicism, bureaucratic infighting and manipulation that brought the world close to annihilation.” —San Francisco Chronicle “Every age finds the writers it needs, and the nuclear age has found Richard Rhodes.”—The Nation“Throughout his assiduously researched work, Rhodes cites stunning statistics to support his contention that the nuclear competition has run amok . . . dense with crucial, revealing information obtained from personal interviews and newly declassified documents, Rhodes’s Arsenals of Folly is a dramatic and penetrating investigation of the nuclear arms race and its eventual end.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer“A terrifying overview of the global potential for killing.”—The Economist“Rhodes performs the remarkable feat of reconstructing all the niggling, the misunderstanding, the moments of obtuseness in a way that proves dramatic precisely in its repetitiveness and frustration.”—Newsday“His artful narrative contains some real gems.”—New York Times Book Review“Highly detailed and gripping . . . a chilling conclusion.”—Scientific American“Rich and riveting . . . a splendid writer . . . harrowing.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review “Using an impressive range of sources, clean writing and a clear sense of the dramatic, Rhodes triumphs.”—Rocky Mountain News“As a contribution to our understanding of the latter half of the 20th century, Rhodes’s achievement is on a par with Taylor Branch’s America in the King Years trilogy and Robert Caro’s monumental ongoing biography of Lyndon B. Johnson.”—The Mercury News (San Jose, CA)“Rhodes is not only an outstanding researcher and historian, he is a superb writer who enraptures the reader with a gripping narrative. Upon reading this important book, one will walk away ruminating on the unspeakable horror of the nuclear apocalypse that was, it often seems miraculously, avoided during the Cold War.” —The Sunday Star-Ledger“Stylistically, Arsenals of Folly is often quite distinguished. The impressive opening chapter–which describe the Chernobyl disaster in a controlled but morbidly involving tone–is an achievement . . . as an allegory of manipulated intelligence, miscalculation, and fatal ideology, it is alarmingly relevant.”—The Tennessean“No finer manual for learning from the mistakes of our past than [this] valuable book.”—Seed magazine“Detailed and dramatic . . . devastating commentary on the perilous nature of the nuclear arms race.”—Houston Chronicle“Intriguing insight . . . Rhodes masterfully dissects decades of what he considers reckless and misguided policy decisions that led the United States and the Soviet Union to expand their nuclear arsenals beyond all logic . . . The author’s deftly painted character portraits–he mentions Gorbachev’s “southern Russian accent and hillbilly grammar”–make for an engrossing narrative.”—The American Heritage“Absorbing . . . “—The Seattle Times“With skillful insight, Richard Rhodes has woven accounts by Soviet and American insiders into a dark and troubling history of superpower insanity. He makes you wonder when we'll wake up, since some of the American villains keep coming back to haunt us: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle.”—David Shipler, Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams“Richard Rhodes, our leading historian of nuclear weapons, has written a powerful, clear-eyed account of the nuclear arms race, focusing on Mikhail Gorbachev as the heroic figure in the history of mankind’s 20th Century flirtation with oblivion. Rhodes gives the still-neglected happy ending to that flirtation the sweeping, insightful, and compelling treatment it deserves. So yes, this is an “important” book, but it reads like a political thriller.”—Robert G. Kaiser, Why Gorbachev Happened“Compelling . . . an insightful chronicle of epoch-shaping events.”—Booklist"Rhodes accomplishes what neither American nor Soviet political cultures could manage over a half-century of nuclear cold war–to find the flesh-and-blood human reality on both sides. Rich with revelation, insight and detail, riveting as a powerful novel, Arsenals of Folly is transcendent history, haunting our memory and experience." —Roger Morris, Partners in Power: The Clintons and Their America