The dramatic, first-hand account of the historic 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Iceland—the definitive weekend that was the key turning point in the Cold War—by President Reagan’s arms control director, Ken Adelman.
In October 1986, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for a forty-eight-hour summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. Planned as a short, inconsequential gathering to outline future talks, the meeting quickly turned to major international issues, including the strategic defense initiative and the possibility of eliminating all nuclear weapons—negotiations that laid the groundwork for the most sweeping arms accord in history the following year.
Scrupulously researched and based on now-declassified information, Reagan at Reykjavik tells the gripping tale of this weekend that changed the world. Filled with illustrative accounts of the private discussions between Reagan and his team, Ken Adelman provides an honest and up-close portrait of President Reagan at one of his finest and most challenging moments.
Reagan at Reykjavik includes 16 pages of black-and-white photos and 11 illustrations.
Adelman (The Defense Revolution), arms control director under President Ronald Reagan, pulls back the curtain on the dramatic weekend in October 1986 when Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in Reykjavik, Iceland, to discuss matters at a sort of presummit meeting. In this firsthand account, Adelman draws on the extensive public record of the event to deliver a comprehensive look at the larger-than-life figures, divisive issues, monumental breakthroughs, and frustrating stalemates, which in his opinion led this to be "the weekend that ended the Cold War." While he's quick to acknowledge that the initial responses to Reykjavik were mixed, even disappointing, he tracks the aftermath to show how the seeds for the breakup of the Soviet Union and the impetus for mass nuclear disarmament treaties took hold in Reykjavik. There's no doubt that Adelman was a Reagan man through and through, but he pays due respect to Gorbachev and other noteworthy Soviets such as Field Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev. Adelman's style is quick, accessible, and occasionally humorous, giving this tale an almost whimsical feel despite its world-changing subject. Whether or not his thesis is true, this is certainly a uniquely close-range look at a Cold War turning point.
What a remarkable read. I enjoyed the history and reflection of a “cold war” era.
Reagan at Reykjavik
Ken Adelman has made a major contribution to making senses of the end of the Cold War and Ronald Reagan's contribution to that end. Adelman describes how the interaction between two men, Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev brought about a profound change in the relationship between two countries in just two days; giving those countries, through the personalities and personal interaction of the two men, the opportunity to find a path toward lessen tensions and understanding resulting in nuclear warhead reductions that had been thought impossible to achieve. Although the Summit at Reykjavik end badly, the seeds were sown for an unimagined future. The story told is a page-turner. It is hard to put down. As a lesson in leadership, Reagan is in a class by himself as Adelman explains. This book is also part autobiography as Adelman was a major participant at Reykjavik as Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. His story of Field Marshall Sergei Akhromeyev, his contribution to Reykjavik and his character are worth the read. The use of recently declassified Russian and American notes from the meetings that included only Reagan, Gorbachev, interpreters and note-takers, and Adelman's style, gives insights that have not previously been available. Ken Adelman gave a talk on his book at The Heritage Foundation on May 8, 2014 which I was privileged to attend.