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Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly

by

Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"In Red Cloud at Dawn, Michael D. Gordin describes the key decisions made with regard to nuclear weapons policy during the period when the United States had a monopoly on such weapons after World War II....The book opens dramatically at the Big Three summit that convened at Potsdam (a suburb of Berlin) near the end of World War II, between the surrenders of Germany and Japan. The date was July 17, 1945, which happened to be the day after the world's first nuclear explosion in Alamogordo, New Mexico. American President Harry S. Truman felt empowered by the news that he had a new weapon, but he only hinted of its existence to Joseph Stalin, not wanting to consult with him about its use." Frank N. von Hippel, American Scientist (Read the entire American Scientist review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

On August 29, 1949, the first Soviet test bomb, dubbed First Lightning, exploded in the deserts of Kazakhstan. The startling event was not simply a technical experiment that confirmed the ability of the Soviet Union to build nuclear bombs during a period when the United States held a steadfast monopoly; it was also an international event that marked the beginning of an arms race that would ultimately lead to nuclear proliferation beyond the two superpowers.

Following a trail of espionage, secrecy, deception, political brinksmanship, and technical innovation, Michael D. Gordin challenges conventional technology-centered nuclear histories by looking at the prominent roles that atomic intelligence and other forms of information play in the uncertainties of nuclear arms development and political decision-making.

With the use of newly opened archives, Red Cloud at Dawn focuses on the extraordinary story of First Lightning to provide a fresh understanding of the origins of the nuclear arms race, as well as the all-too-urgent problem of proliferation.

Review:

“Nothing about the early cold war can be understood without grasping the terrifying first few years of nuclear weapons. Everything was in play: who would have them, who would control them, would they be used to enforce a pax Americana. Spies, diplomats, treaties, and detonations — nothing gripped decision makers as much as the atomic arsenal, from screaming headlines to the silent intelligence analyses on both sides of the divide. In Red Cloud at Dawn, Michael Gordin zeros in on the crucial years from Hiroshima to the first flash of ‘Joe 1 in 1949, the first Russian bomb and the ninth nuclear explosion. Using a spectacular variety of sources from Soviet and American sources, Gordin gives us a book that must be read to understand how we came to the sprawling nuclear proliferation in which we now live.” Peter Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University

Review:

“Beginning with Truman's revelation to Stalin that the United States had an unusually powerful weapon, Michael Gordin tells the story of the Soviet A-bomb and the origins of the Cold War arms race. The ‘dialectical dance of the superpowers entailed a deadly embrace that cost millions but miraculously avoided nuclear holocaust. This is a story of intelligence in both senses of the word — of spies and scientists, of information rather than simply fissionable material and devices. The red mushroom cloud rose on August 29, 1949, and, as Gordin's compelling narrative shows, the fallout, in its many senses, remains with us today.” Ronald Suny, Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History, University of Michigan

Review:

“Michael Gordin brings vividly to life the end of the American atomic monopoly. By focusing on what each side knew — and did not know — about the other, he sheds new and original light on the origins of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race. This is a stylish book, with important implications for how we think about nuclear weapons past and present.” David Holloway, author of Stalin and the Bomb

Review:

"The dramatic but familiar story of how American leaders used nuclear weaponry to end World War II marks but the beginning of the little-understood period during which American leaders jealously protected their hard-won monopoly in atomic firepower while fearfully anticipating Soviet breakthroughs that would loose the dynamics of global proliferation. In his taut narrative, Gordin retraces the complex events leading up to First Lightning, the Soviets' epoch-making atomic test in August 1949 — far sooner than most American experts expected. More than a tale of scientific ingenuity, this chronicle probes the human motives of those involved in a high-stakes drama. Truman and Stalin naturally command center stage, but readers also scrutinize the mercurial Oppenheimer and the irreproachable Kurchatov — and numerous other key actors. Readers will recognize parallels between the Soviet bomb effort and America's earlier Manhattan Project, but Gordin stresses the marked differences — in organization, resources, personnel, and security precautions. Readers may already know how spies — Fuchs, Hall, Hiss — passed along secrets to Soviet authorities; however, they may not realize why the Soviets relied on human espionage while their American counterparts deployed innovative technology to gather their intelligence data. A perceptive study, rich with implications for a twenty-first-century world still fraught with nuclear tensions." Bryce Christensen, Booklist (starred review)

Review:

“Gordin has crafted a quite wonderful book . . . [It] greatly expands what we should know about the contest for nuclear supremacy in the early Cold War. Heartily recommended.” Ed Goedeken, Library Journal

Review:

“This is a book full of great details . . . [A] fine, thoroughly researched book.” Nicholas Thompson, The New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE

On August 29, 1949, the first Soviet test bomb, dubbed "First Lightning," exploded in the deserts of Kazakhstan. This surprising international event marked the beginning of an arms race that would ultimately lead to nuclear proliferation beyond the two superpowers of the Soviet Union and the United States.

With the use of newly opened archives, Michael D. Gordin folows a trail of espionage, secrecy, deception, political brinksmanship, and technical innovation to provide a fresh understanding of the nuclear arms race.

Synopsis:

On August 29, 1949, the first Soviet test bomb, dubbed First Lightning, exploded in the deserts of Kazakhstan. The startling event was not simply a technical experiment that confirmed the ability of the Soviet Union to build nuclear bombs during a period when the United States held a steadfast monopoly; it was also an international event that marked the beginning of an arms race that would ultimately lead to nuclear proliferation beyond the two superpowers.

 

Following a trail of espionage, secrecy, deception, political brinksmanship, and technical innovation, Michael D. Gordin challenges conventional technology-centered nuclear histories by looking at the prominent roles that atomic intelligence and other forms of information play in the uncertainties of nuclear arms development and political decision-making. With the use of newly opened archives, Red Cloud at Dawn focuses on the extraordinary story of First Lightning to provide a fresh understanding of the origins of the nuclear arms race, as well as the all-too-urgent problem of proliferation.

“Nothing about the early cold war can be understood without grasping the terrifying first few years of nuclear weapons. Everything was in play: who would have them, who would control them, would they be used to enforce a pax Americana. Spies, diplomats, treaties, and detonations—nothing gripped decision makers as much as the atomic arsenal, from screaming headlines to the silent intelligence analyses on both sides of the divide. In Red Cloud at Dawn, Michael Gordin zeros in on the crucial years from Hiroshima to the first flash of ‘Joe 1 in 1949, the first Russian bomb and the ninth nuclear explosion. Using a spectacular variety of sources from Soviet and American sources, Gordin gives us a book that must be read to understand how we came to the sprawling nuclear proliferation in which we now live.”—Peter Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University

“Beginning with Trumans revelation to Stalin that the United States had an unusually powerful weapon, Michael Gordin tells the story of the Soviet A-bomb and the origins of the Cold War arms race. The ‘dialectical dance of the superpowers entailed a deadly embrace that cost millions but miraculously avoided nuclear holocaust. This is a story of intelligence in both senses of the word—of spies and scientists, of information rather than simply fissionable material and devices. The red mushroom cloud rose on August 29, 1949, and, as Gordins compelling narrative shows, the fallout, in its many senses, remains with us today.”—Ronald Suny, Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History, University of Michigan

“Michael Gordin brings vividly to life the end of the American atomic monopoly. By focusing on what each side knew—and did not know—about the other, he sheds new and original light on the origins of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race. This is a stylish book, with important implications for how we think about nuclear weapons past and present.”—David Holloway, author of Stalin and the Bomb

"The dramatic but familiar story of how American leaders used nuclear weaponry to end World War II marks but the beginning of the little-understood period during which American leaders jealously protected their hard-won monopoly in atomic firepower while fearfully anticipating Soviet breakthroughs that would loose the dynamics of global proliferation. In his taut narrative, Gordin retraces the complex events leading up to First Lightning, the Soviets' epoch-making atomic test in August 1949—far sooner than most American experts expected. More than a tale of scientific ingenuity, this chronicle probes the human motives of those involved in a high-stakes drama. Truman and Stalin naturally command center stage, but readers also scrutinize the mercurial Oppenheimer and the irreproachable Kurchatov—and numerous other key actors. Readers will recognize parallels between the Soviet bomb effort and America's earlier Manhattan Project, but Gordin stresses the marked differences—in organization, resources, personnel, and security precautions. Readers may already know how spies—Fuchs, Hall, Hiss—passed along secrets to Soviet authorities; however, they may not realize why the Soviets relied on human espionage while their American counterparts deployed innovative technology to gather their intelligence data. A perceptive study, rich with implications for a twenty-first-century world still fraught with nuclear tensions."Bryce Christensen, Booklist (starred review)

“Gordin has crafted a quite wonderful book . . . [It] greatly expands what we should know about the contest for nuclear supremacy in the early Cold War. Heartily recommended.”—Ed Goedeken, Library Journal

About the Author

Michael D. Gordin is an associate professor of the history of science at Princeton University. He is the author of Five Days in August: How World War II Became a Nuclear War.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312655426
Author:
Gordin, Michael D.
Publisher:
Picador USA
Subject:
Military - Nuclear Warfare
Subject:
Nuclear Physics
Subject:
Physics-Nuclear
Subject:
World History-1650 to Present
Subject:
Military - Weapons
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20101131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes 7 maps
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Related Subjects


History and Social Science » Military » Espionage
History and Social Science » Military » Weapons » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Covert Government and Conspiracy Theory
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Russia » General Russian History
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present

Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Picador USA - English 9780312655426 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "In Red Cloud at Dawn, Michael D. Gordin describes the key decisions made with regard to nuclear weapons policy during the period when the United States had a monopoly on such weapons after World War II....The book opens dramatically at the Big Three summit that convened at Potsdam (a suburb of Berlin) near the end of World War II, between the surrenders of Germany and Japan. The date was July 17, 1945, which happened to be the day after the world's first nuclear explosion in Alamogordo, New Mexico. American President Harry S. Truman felt empowered by the news that he had a new weapon, but he only hinted of its existence to Joseph Stalin, not wanting to consult with him about its use." (Read the entire American Scientist review)
"Review" by , “Nothing about the early cold war can be understood without grasping the terrifying first few years of nuclear weapons. Everything was in play: who would have them, who would control them, would they be used to enforce a pax Americana. Spies, diplomats, treaties, and detonations — nothing gripped decision makers as much as the atomic arsenal, from screaming headlines to the silent intelligence analyses on both sides of the divide. In Red Cloud at Dawn, Michael Gordin zeros in on the crucial years from Hiroshima to the first flash of ‘Joe 1 in 1949, the first Russian bomb and the ninth nuclear explosion. Using a spectacular variety of sources from Soviet and American sources, Gordin gives us a book that must be read to understand how we came to the sprawling nuclear proliferation in which we now live.”
"Review" by , “Beginning with Truman's revelation to Stalin that the United States had an unusually powerful weapon, Michael Gordin tells the story of the Soviet A-bomb and the origins of the Cold War arms race. The ‘dialectical dance of the superpowers entailed a deadly embrace that cost millions but miraculously avoided nuclear holocaust. This is a story of intelligence in both senses of the word — of spies and scientists, of information rather than simply fissionable material and devices. The red mushroom cloud rose on August 29, 1949, and, as Gordin's compelling narrative shows, the fallout, in its many senses, remains with us today.” Ronald Suny, Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History, University of Michigan
"Review" by , “Michael Gordin brings vividly to life the end of the American atomic monopoly. By focusing on what each side knew — and did not know — about the other, he sheds new and original light on the origins of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race. This is a stylish book, with important implications for how we think about nuclear weapons past and present.”
"Review" by , "The dramatic but familiar story of how American leaders used nuclear weaponry to end World War II marks but the beginning of the little-understood period during which American leaders jealously protected their hard-won monopoly in atomic firepower while fearfully anticipating Soviet breakthroughs that would loose the dynamics of global proliferation. In his taut narrative, Gordin retraces the complex events leading up to First Lightning, the Soviets' epoch-making atomic test in August 1949 — far sooner than most American experts expected. More than a tale of scientific ingenuity, this chronicle probes the human motives of those involved in a high-stakes drama. Truman and Stalin naturally command center stage, but readers also scrutinize the mercurial Oppenheimer and the irreproachable Kurchatov — and numerous other key actors. Readers will recognize parallels between the Soviet bomb effort and America's earlier Manhattan Project, but Gordin stresses the marked differences — in organization, resources, personnel, and security precautions. Readers may already know how spies — Fuchs, Hall, Hiss — passed along secrets to Soviet authorities; however, they may not realize why the Soviets relied on human espionage while their American counterparts deployed innovative technology to gather their intelligence data. A perceptive study, rich with implications for a twenty-first-century world still fraught with nuclear tensions." (starred review)
"Review" by , “Gordin has crafted a quite wonderful book . . . [It] greatly expands what we should know about the contest for nuclear supremacy in the early Cold War. Heartily recommended.”
"Review" by , “This is a book full of great details . . . [A] fine, thoroughly researched book.”
"Synopsis" by ,

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE

On August 29, 1949, the first Soviet test bomb, dubbed "First Lightning," exploded in the deserts of Kazakhstan. This surprising international event marked the beginning of an arms race that would ultimately lead to nuclear proliferation beyond the two superpowers of the Soviet Union and the United States.

With the use of newly opened archives, Michael D. Gordin folows a trail of espionage, secrecy, deception, political brinksmanship, and technical innovation to provide a fresh understanding of the nuclear arms race.

"Synopsis" by ,

On August 29, 1949, the first Soviet test bomb, dubbed First Lightning, exploded in the deserts of Kazakhstan. The startling event was not simply a technical experiment that confirmed the ability of the Soviet Union to build nuclear bombs during a period when the United States held a steadfast monopoly; it was also an international event that marked the beginning of an arms race that would ultimately lead to nuclear proliferation beyond the two superpowers.

 

Following a trail of espionage, secrecy, deception, political brinksmanship, and technical innovation, Michael D. Gordin challenges conventional technology-centered nuclear histories by looking at the prominent roles that atomic intelligence and other forms of information play in the uncertainties of nuclear arms development and political decision-making. With the use of newly opened archives, Red Cloud at Dawn focuses on the extraordinary story of First Lightning to provide a fresh understanding of the origins of the nuclear arms race, as well as the all-too-urgent problem of proliferation.

“Nothing about the early cold war can be understood without grasping the terrifying first few years of nuclear weapons. Everything was in play: who would have them, who would control them, would they be used to enforce a pax Americana. Spies, diplomats, treaties, and detonations—nothing gripped decision makers as much as the atomic arsenal, from screaming headlines to the silent intelligence analyses on both sides of the divide. In Red Cloud at Dawn, Michael Gordin zeros in on the crucial years from Hiroshima to the first flash of ‘Joe 1 in 1949, the first Russian bomb and the ninth nuclear explosion. Using a spectacular variety of sources from Soviet and American sources, Gordin gives us a book that must be read to understand how we came to the sprawling nuclear proliferation in which we now live.”—Peter Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University

“Beginning with Trumans revelation to Stalin that the United States had an unusually powerful weapon, Michael Gordin tells the story of the Soviet A-bomb and the origins of the Cold War arms race. The ‘dialectical dance of the superpowers entailed a deadly embrace that cost millions but miraculously avoided nuclear holocaust. This is a story of intelligence in both senses of the word—of spies and scientists, of information rather than simply fissionable material and devices. The red mushroom cloud rose on August 29, 1949, and, as Gordins compelling narrative shows, the fallout, in its many senses, remains with us today.”—Ronald Suny, Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History, University of Michigan

“Michael Gordin brings vividly to life the end of the American atomic monopoly. By focusing on what each side knew—and did not know—about the other, he sheds new and original light on the origins of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race. This is a stylish book, with important implications for how we think about nuclear weapons past and present.”—David Holloway, author of Stalin and the Bomb

"The dramatic but familiar story of how American leaders used nuclear weaponry to end World War II marks but the beginning of the little-understood period during which American leaders jealously protected their hard-won monopoly in atomic firepower while fearfully anticipating Soviet breakthroughs that would loose the dynamics of global proliferation. In his taut narrative, Gordin retraces the complex events leading up to First Lightning, the Soviets' epoch-making atomic test in August 1949—far sooner than most American experts expected. More than a tale of scientific ingenuity, this chronicle probes the human motives of those involved in a high-stakes drama. Truman and Stalin naturally command center stage, but readers also scrutinize the mercurial Oppenheimer and the irreproachable Kurchatov—and numerous other key actors. Readers will recognize parallels between the Soviet bomb effort and America's earlier Manhattan Project, but Gordin stresses the marked differences—in organization, resources, personnel, and security precautions. Readers may already know how spies—Fuchs, Hall, Hiss—passed along secrets to Soviet authorities; however, they may not realize why the Soviets relied on human espionage while their American counterparts deployed innovative technology to gather their intelligence data. A perceptive study, rich with implications for a twenty-first-century world still fraught with nuclear tensions."Bryce Christensen, Booklist (starred review)

“Gordin has crafted a quite wonderful book . . . [It] greatly expands what we should know about the contest for nuclear supremacy in the early Cold War. Heartily recommended.”—Ed Goedeken, Library Journal

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