The Birth of Soviet Missile Defense
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Reston, Virginia, 2015, 312 pages
Book Review published on: March 24, 2017
The book Intercept 1961: The Birth of Soviet Missile Defense is a detailed and cumulative history about how the Soviet Union, during the height of the Cold War, was able to mass produce such defensive type weapons, without being initially detected, by the United States. This literary review clearly displays the work of author Mike Gruntman, who painstakingly worked with both American and Russian governments in obtaining declassified information about this technology. What Gruntman brings to light is a piece of forgotten history, which serves as a catalyst for the Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s, for both the Soviets and the United States during that timeframe. His study of key and developmental Soviet leaders, which showed their contributions to the Soviet missile defense programs, is superb.
What immediately caught my attention was the research that Gruntman did in obtained declassified information from intelligence agencies of how the Soviets were twenty years ahead of the United States—in this particular field of technology—starting under the direction of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Gruntman shows how work on these Soviet defense missile projects began as early as the mid-1940s during the height of the Second World War. He also details how after the end of the Second World War, in 1945, Stalin directed his defense chiefs to build such defensive weapons, for the “protection of Moscow from 1,000 bombers.” What Gruntman also brought to light, in great detail, was the shooting down of U-2 pilot Gary Powers, in May 1960, by this new Russian missile technology.
Additional research, completed by Gruntman, displays how, by the mid-1950s, U.S. intelligence agencies, under the direction of the White House, were trying to understand what the Soviets were doing (in the way of missile technology) and how Soviet research had broken away from its original German design intentions. Gruntman is an absolute authoritative figure in this realm of Soviet history. His work should be considered authentic and extremely dependable. Part of my special attraction, to this book, were the scientific details about the actual weapon systems themselves. Gruntman’s diagrams are sound and his focus, on this topic, is commanding. He gives the reader the ability to understand the technical difficulty that the Soviets dealt with, in acquiring such defense weapons, when the technology, at the time, was limited.
This book is an absolute and essential read for those who wish to receive a more-detailed understanding of how Soviet influence, technology, and methodology began at the start of the Cold War, in the way of missile defense. It also entails how many of the intricate and sensitive topics, that Gruntman speaks of, still hold true today, in places where the Soviets are continuing to project their power, like Ukraine and Syria. In closing, this book is extremely relevant, even more so now, to the defense community because we can never learn too much about how the Soviet mind thinks and operates, especially when they are so dedicated about a particular cause or want in the scope of world power and domination.
Book Review written by: Maj. Leroy L. Cisneros, U.S. Army, Fort Gordon, Georgia