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The Making of a Soviet Scientist : My Adventures in Nuclear Fusion and Space - From Stalin to Star Wars - R. Z. Sagdeev

The Making of a Soviet Scientist

My Adventures in Nuclear Fusion and Space - From Stalin to Star Wars

Hardcover Published: 6th April 1994
ISBN: 9780471020318
Number Of Pages: 340

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The critically acclaimed memoir that rips the curtain of secrecy off the world of Soviet science

"Revelations and insights about the Soviet space program . . . It is good that such a wise man will live among us for a while." --The New York Times

"A rare, valuable, insider's look at the Soviet military industrial machine."--Publishers Weekly

"I found it fascinating . . . important not only to scientists, but also for those who fashion government politics generally."--Herman Feshbach Institute Professor Emeritus Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"A real contribution to the literature of the space age."--Chicago Sun-Times

"This is a powerful yet charming account of the Soviet Union's scientific, space, and military enterprise, characterized by Sagdeev's frank and insightful style mixed with delightful humor and humanity."--Charles H. Townes Nobel Laureate in Physics University of California, Berkeley

"For all who are interested in the interaction of science and society, and in the nature of the Soviet Union as seen by a keen observer who was at the same time an 'insider' and a dedicated humanist, this book is highly recommended." --Physics Today

Industry Reviews

The West's understanding of science under communism is painted in broad strokes: the horrors of Lysenkoism, the house arrest of Peter Kapitsa, the banishment of Sakharov, and innumerable accounts of persecution and consignment to asylums or gulags for dissidents, and even nondissidents if they were Jews. Sagdeev's story is different. Born in 1932 he was the gifted son of Tatar parents, his father having been plucked from the peasantry to become a mathematician and teacher. Sagdeev graduated from Moscow State University and proved worthy of mentorship under the likes of Lev Landau, Igor Kurchatov, and Kapitsa himself. What follows next is a career line in which Sagdeev demonstrated his gifts for science and administration, first in research on controlled fusion - an area where Russian research has been outstanding - and then in space science. Sagdeev was director of the Space Research Institute in Moscow - the civilian space agency. There, and in his earlier positions in the academic city founded in Novosibirsk, Sagdeev fought a constant battle with the military-industrial complex, party functionaries, and the KGB. Sheer wit, intelligence, and bravado enabled him to win more often than not - over assorted villains with nicknames like the "Big Hammer" or "Big Oleg." This fighting within the system opened the way to international communications, travel, and scientific collaboration - a pre-glasnost glasnost. It makes for remarkable reading, often laced with insights into Russian thinking and humor. It is not without interest that Sagdeev's editor and the cause of his "heart" drain to America (where he teaches physics at Univ. of Maryland) is his present wife - Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of the man who coined the term military-industrial complex. (Kirkus Reviews)

Partial table of contents:

Tickets to Mars.

Going to Kazan.


Only Physics Makes Sense.

The Kurchatov Institute.

My Mentors.


Kapitsa: The Lone Warrior.

A Hostage to Politics.


Farewell, Moscow.

The Giant Leap Forward.

The Academy of Sciences: The House of Lords.

The Beginning of a Space Career.

The Chief Designer and the Chief Theorist of Cosmonautics.

The War of the Titans.

War Games in the Academy.

From Here to Eternity.

The War of the Worlds.

Big Oleg.


The Call of the Name.

The Revenge of the Comet.

In Place of an Epilogue.



ISBN: 9780471020318
ISBN-10: 0471020311
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 340
Published: 6th April 1994
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.7 x 16.4  x 2.8
Weight (kg): 0.68
Edition Number: 1