Given the renewed interest in Soviet military matters, U. of Edinburgh political scientist Holloway's solid, reasoned overview of Soviet strategy and strategic forces will fill some gaps (unlike Viktor Suvorov's overwrought Inside the Soviet Army, p. 56). Holloway holds to the view that, despite comments to the contrary, the Soviets still see nuclear parity with the US as the best guarantee against nuclear war; and he shows a degree of sympathy for the Soviet side of several bilateral sticking points. Soviet medium-range missiles, he demonstrates, were deployed against a perceived threat from American missiles stationed in Europe. The Soviets don't regard these missiles as ""strategic"" since they are not targeted on American soil--unlike US missiles in Europe, which can hit Soviet targets. The US, however, classes them with Soviet ICBMs because they're targeted on America's NATO allies. Soviet concern with defending itself and with preparing for the possibility of nuclear war is genuine, Holloway thinks; the real problem is agreeing on what constitutes parity in theater nuclear weapons. The definition will not be technical but political, to be arrived at by negotiation; and Holloway is not sanguine about the chances for reaching agreement. On other fronts, he details the ideological and practical history of Soviet use of military power in foreign affairs; unlike some, he doesn't think that the USSR will abandon its Afghan occupation, or that its situation there is untenable. Holloway also thinks that the military still take second place--but the political leadership will nonetheless continue to sacrifice economic and political reforms to military preparedness as long as they perceive a threat: though the economy is suffering, no real crisis looms. Since Soviet leaders tend to be reactive in the absence of a crisis, the US will have to take the lead in proposing arms reductions. And on the basis that arms-reductions agreements can actually spur the development of new, as-yet-unprohibited weapons, Holloway also calls for a unilateral American initiative, an argument that many will find out-of-order here. The conclusions notwithstanding, this is the kind of information on which George Kennan based his recent The Nuclear Delusion, and it's good to have it on hand.