Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Revealing how close the world had come to nuclear Armageddon, this book sheds light on the frightening last chapters of the Cold War, and the legacy of the nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that remain a threat today.
This book, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction and is soon to be published in the UK, is in the best traditions of American long-form reportage ... Key characters are evoked in enough detail to make us care and then carry the narrative through to the end. It involves simplifications and elisions: but in this case, these are less important than the horrified fascination Hoffman... succeeds in rousing through a story at once journalistically detailed and morally alive ... Hoffman’s flowing narrative is so seductively readable that it seems destined for a conclusion which resolves all.
... authoritative and chilling ... a readable, many-tentacled account of the decades-long military standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union ... What’s particularly valuable about Mr. Hoffman’s book, however, is the skill with which he narrows his focus (and his indefatigable reporting) down to a few essential areas. Thanks to interviews and new documents, he provides the fullest — and quite frankly the most terrifying — account to date of the enormous and covert Soviet biological weapons program, developed in defiance of international treaties at the same time that the Soviets appeared to be earnestly interested in reducing their weapons stockpile ... Mr. Hoffman has an eye for bleak, jagged details ... Mr. Hoffman is so careful not to bore his readers that he sometimes underestimates them, verging closer to Tom Clancy than to John Lewis Gaddis. More synthesis and cerebration would have made this good book better.
... unsettling ... The Dead Hand argues convincingly that America's victory in the Cold War wasn't nearly as triumphant as the most self-congratulatory among us have tended to believe ... Hoffman's book is a chillingly modern historical tale about a collective failure with lasting consequences ... The Dead Hand at times veers too quickly from stories of spies to politicians and to scientists and varied weapons facilities, and its portrait of Reagan is surprisingly benign.