Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939-1956

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Yale University Press, Jan 1, 1994 - Political Science - 464 pages
For forty years the Soviet-American nuclear arms race dominated world politics, yet the Soviet nuclear establishment was shrouded in secrecy. Now that the Cold War is over and the Soviet Union has collapsed, it is possible to answer questions that have intrigued policymakers and the public for years. How did the Soviet Union build its atomic and hydrogen bombs? What role did espionage play? How did the American atomic monopoly affect Stalin's foreign policy? What was the relationship between Soviet nuclear scientists and the country's political leaders? This spellbinding book answers these questions by tracing the history of Soviet nuclear policy from developments in physics in the 1920s to the testing of the hydrogen bomb and the emergence of nuclear deterrence in the mid-1950s.

In engrossing detail, David Holloway tells how Stalin launched a crash atomic program only after the Americans bombed Hiroshima and showed that the bomb could be built; how the information handed over to the Soviets by Klaus Fuchs helped in the creation of their first bomb; how the scientific intelligentsia, which included such men as Andrei Sakharov, interacted with the police apparatus headed by the suspicious and menacing Lavrentii Beria; what steps Stalin took to counter U.S. atomic diplomacy; how the nuclear project saved Soviet physics and enabled it to survive as an island of intellectual autonomy in a totalitarian society; and what happened when, after Stalin's death, Soviet scientists argued that a nuclear war might extinguish all life on earth.

This magisterial history throws light on Soviet policy at the height of the Cold War, illuminates a central but hitherto secret element of the Stalinist system, and puts into perspective the tragic legacy of this program today--environmental damage, a vast network of institutes and factories, and a huge stockpile of unwanted weapons.
 

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STALIN AND THE BOMB: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939-1956

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A measured account of the development of the Soviet bomb program by Holloway (Political Science/Stanford, The Soviet Union and the Arms Race, 1983) that contrives to be both technically comprehensive ... Read full review

Contents

Ioffes Institute
8
Nuclear Prehistory
29
Reacting to Fission
49
Making a Decision
72
Getting Started
96
Hiroshima
116
The PostHiroshima Project
134
The Premises of Policy
150
The War of Nerves
253
Dangerous Relations
273
The Hydrogen Bomb
294
After Stalin
320
The Atom and Peace
346
Conclusion
364
Bibliographical Note
372
Notes
375

The Atomic Industry
172
The Atomic Bomb
196
War and the Atomic Bomb
224
Biographical Notes
447
Index
453
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

David Holloway is professor of political science and co-director, Center for International Security and Arms Control, at Stanford University. He is also the author of The Soviet Union and the Arms Race, published by Yale University Press.

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