Effectively focused, vividly adept portraits of two newsmakers at the pinnacles of their relevance on the world stage.
Not only was he present at the Reykjavik summit in October 1986, in the role of director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Adelman (Shakespeare in Charge: The Bard's Guide to Leading and Succeeding on the Business Stage, 1999, etc.) has taught Shakespeare and knows a thing or two about drama, character and leadership. He is convincing in his argument that the Iceland weekend of arms control maneuvering between the two superpower chiefs—Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, who was perched precariously atop the geriatric Soviet dictatorship and desperate to enact reform—had enormous repercussions, namely the beginning of the dismantling of the Soviet state. Indeed, both leaders sorely needed to score a coup during this one-on-one weekend. The gathering was supposed to be low-key, with few advisers, but Gorbachev brought along more than 300 officials and his educated, elegant wife, Raisa. The Soviet leader badly needed to rein in Soviet spending on nuclear armaments to keep up with the West—e.g., countering Reagan’s much vaunted Strategic Defense Initiative—since the Soviet Union, sprawled across satellite minions, was simply broke. Reagan, for his part, emerges in Adelman’s heartfelt yet witty portrait as more in touch than his advisers. However, SDI, or “Star Wars,” proved the sticking point to an agreement between the two mostly willing partners: Gorbachev was terrified of it, Reagan agreed naively to share it, while the truth was that it didn’t even exist. Yet the weekend, involving the warm, open conversing between the two once-icy contingents, would change everyone, “humanize officials” and bring the much-needed Cold War thaw.
More personalities than arms arcana, infused by a deep reverence for his man.