The books I normally read fall into two categories--history (predominantly of the Cold War) and reference. In addition to being interesting, books about history help me better understand current developments. This is especially true for Russia--most Soviet institutions, policies, and perceptions proved to be quite resilient and survived the demise of the Soviet Union. As for reference books, even during a time when the internet seems to provide an incredible amount of information instantly, it’s still essential to maintain a collection of bound sources that can be trusted implicitly.
Science & Global Security is the go-to journal for technical analysis of arms control and nonproliferation issues.
In this new book, Rhodes describes the folly of the U.S.-Soviet arms race. He spends quite a bit of time describing the Reykjavik summit--it’s interesting how close (and at the same time, how far) the United States and the Soviet Union to nuclear disarmament.
This book provides an interesting account of Soviet foreign policy during the 1950s and 1960s. The authors, using Politburo documents, show the dangers of the U.S.-Soviet confrontation of that time. And it provides important new evidence about the Cuban missile crisis.
I keep two copies of this book on my table--the Russian edition for reference and the English edition for when I want to quote it. Even though it’s more than 10 years old, the book remains the most comprehensive source of information about Soviet and Russian nuclear forces.
Making the Russian Bomb is a detailed description of the Soviet and Russian nuclear complex.
This is probably the best book about the Cold War. Detailed and well documented--the footnotes are equal to the text itself--Détente and Confrontation provides an engaging account of some of the most interesting years of the Cold War. It helps that Garthoff participated in many of the events he describes.
A definitive five-volume series that describes the nuclear forces of five of the nuclear weapon states. The authors publish regular updates on the status of these arsenals (as well as those of the newer states) in the Bulletin’s Nuclear Notebook.