The Making of a Soviet Scientist: My Adventures in Nuclear Fusion and Space From Stalin to Star Wars

The Making of a Soviet Scientist: My Adventures in Nuclear Fusion and Space From Stalin to Star Wars

Roald Z. Sagdeev

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: B01K0PWFQQ

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The critically acclaimed memoir that rips the curtain of secrecy off the world of Soviet science

"Revelations and insights about the Soviet space program . . . It is good that such a wise man will live among us for a while." --The New York Times

"A rare, valuable, insider's look at the Soviet military industrial machine."--Publishers Weekly

"I found it fascinating . . . important not only to scientists, but also for those who fashion government politics generally."--Herman Feshbach Institute Professor Emeritus Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"A real contribution to the literature of the space age."--Chicago Sun-Times

"This is a powerful yet charming account of the Soviet Union's scientific, space, and military enterprise, characterized by Sagdeev's frank and insightful style mixed with delightful humor and humanity."--Charles H. Townes Nobel Laureate in Physics University of California, Berkeley

"For all who are interested in the interaction of science and society, and in the nature of the Soviet Union as seen by a keen observer who was at the same time an 'insider' and a dedicated humanist, this book is highly recommended." --Physics Today

From Publishers Weekly

Sagdeev, a physicist who directed the former Soviet Union's Space Research Institute from 1973 to 1990, played a crucial role in restraining a Soviet counteroffensive to the U.S. "Star Wars" program, thereby helping to forestall an acceleration of the nuclear arms race in space. This modest, anecdotal memoir provides a rare, valuable insider's look at the Soviet military-industrial machine. Working on the U.S.S.R.'s abortive controlled-fusion program in the 1950s, Sagdeev witnessed Stalin's destructive interference with the scientific community. Providing close-ups of Brezhnev, Gorbachev and physicist/dissident Andrei Sakharov, his narrative shows how space projects of real scientific value were hobbled while top priority was given to costly, prestige-oriented feats meant to rival those of NASA. Sagdeev is now a physics professor at the University of Maryland; his wife, Susan Eisenhower, the book's editor, is Ike's granddaughter, adding a twist to this Cold War account.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

World-class scientist Sagdeev, currently distinguished professor of physics and director of the East-West Center for Space Science at the University of Maryland, has written an autobiography of his professional career. (The work has been edited by his wife, the granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.) While the reader learns little of his personal life, this account offers great insight into the politics of Soviet science and the impact of the Cold War in shaping scientific research-East and West. As director of the Space Research Institute for the Soviet Union, Sagdeev practiced perestroika before the term came into usage; he eventually served as summit adviser to Mikhail Gorbachev and his science adviser. With its clear and easy-to-read style, absence of technical jargon, and wit and charm-even the footnotes are enjoyable-this book is highly recommended.

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that difficulty removed, Glushko discovered another problem: how to get a decent monument on the standard five thousand-ruble budget allocated by the government. At that time in the mid-seventies, that modest amount of money would probably have been enough to build a rather straightforward, unpretentious bust from simple cheap stone, appropriate for installation in a small or modest-size town. But it certainly was not enough for the man who considered himself equal or even superior to Korolev in

strategist on the Eastern front. It was not long before the best brains in the Central Committee had almost exhausted themselves. They were unable, at least for a few brief moments, to invent any other honors for Brezhnev. "Eureka!" one of them probably exclaimed, "Brezhnev has been a member of the Party for just over fifty years." A special commemoration medal was introduced: "Fifty Years in the CPSU." Another huge celebration was held, this time followed by a chain reaction of mass

combined the unusual qualities of a bright scientist and a man experienced with the applied work at the heart of the military-industrial complex. However, I believe such a combination always evokes a kind of deep internal conflict in a person. Sometimes I witnessed him genuinely suffer from an almost physical pain brought on by his conflict between Dr. Jekyll the scientist, and Mr. Hyde the administrator, the hostage to the system. Keldysh tried to launch a package of progressive reforms in the

notion was deeply ingrained in our psyche. It was, after all, one of the Stalinist axioms that had survived since my childhood. But I had violated an even more important given. At such parties every toast that was offered had a special significance. My friends said that these toasts were how cooperation was decided and the future direction of the program was set. Life is the best teacher. Thus, I learned very quickly not only to attend such parties, but also to sponsor them. Nonetheless, for

or more adversaries on the international scene! The story of the SS-i8 and SS-i9 was a demonstration of an even more dramatic competition in the arms race, within one and the same ministry.4 The Big Hammer, Minister Afanasiev, was unable to make the final choice in favor of Chelomey-though he clearly was on his side. The reason was very simple: the SS-r8, and the feudal lords promoting it, were supported by Ustinov, who was senior to Afanasiev. But Ustinov, in his turn, was also unable to make

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