National Security Archive Update, April 29, 2010: BREAKING DOWN SOVIET MILITARY SECRECY

Archive publishes documents from “The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy,” the new book by David E. Hoffman, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction.

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David E. Hoffman

Washington, DC, April 29, 2010 – Previously unpublished documents from inside the Kremlin shed new light on how Soviet and American scientists breached the walls of Soviet military secrecy in the final years of the Cold War.

The documents were first disclosed in a new book by David E. Hoffman, “The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy.” The documents are being posted today in English translation by the National Security Archive.

The documents and the book show how a progressive Soviet physicist, Yevgeny Velikhov, challenged the Soviet military and security system, throwing open the doors of glasnost with a series of unprecedented tours of top-secret weapons sites. Velikhov took American scientists, experts and journalists on these tours just as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was accelerating his drive to slow the arms race.

These glasnost tours punctured some of the myths and legends of both sides. They showed that the Reagan administration had exaggerated Soviet capabilities and also that the Soviet military machine was not as technologically advanced as had been thought.

The book is based in part on thousands of pages of documents obtained by Hoffman detailing key decisions about the Soviet military-industrial complex and arms control in the 1980s. The documents were collected by Vitaly Katayev, a professional staff member of the Central Committee, and are now deposited at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. The book is also based on extensive documentation of the final years of the Cold War in the collection of the National Security Archive.

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THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

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