Мы вас похороним! Nikita Khrushchev 1956


WE WILL BURY YOU – actually more of a threat about Marxist inevitability than a threat about nuclear war. When he made the threat Eisenhower was president. It took 30 years and a good many steps backwards to make a few forward but by 1986 Ronald Reagan had pretty well buried them. When Khrushchev died of a heart attack on September 11, 1971,  he was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, having been denied a state funeral and interment in the Kremlin Wall. Pravda ran a one-sentence announcement of the former premier’s death. So much for inevitability. Ironically enough it is the new Russia that is more like to bury us.

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Red cloud at dawn : Truman, Stalin, and the end of the atomic monopoly  Michael D. Gordin  New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xii, 402 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [377]-379) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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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.

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Most Americans believe that the Second World War ended because the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan forced it to surrender. Red Cloud at Dawn presents a different interpretation: that the military did not clearly understand the atomic bomb’s revolutionary strategic potential, that the Allies were almost as stunned by the surrender as the Japanese were by the attack, and that not only had experts planned and fully anticipated the need for a third bomb, they were skeptical about whether the atomic bomb would work at all. With these ideas, Michael Gordin reorients the historical and contemporary conversation about the A-bomb and World War II.

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Gordin posits that although the bomb clearly brought with it a new level of destructive power, strategically it was regarded by decision-makers simply as a new conventional weapon, a bigger firebomb. To lend greater understanding to the thinking behind its deployment, Gordin takes the reader to the island of Tinian, near Guam, the home base for the bombing campaign, and the location from which the anticipated third atomic bomb was to be delivered. He also details how Americans generated a new story about the origins of the bomb after surrender: that the United States knew in advance that the bomb would end the war and that its destructive power was so awesome no one could resist it.

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Following a trail of espionage, secrecy, deception, political brinksmanship, and technical innovation, 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 problem of proliferation.

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