A Letter from the Publisher: Oct. 26, 1981

The French poet Andre Breton, leader of the surrealist movement, once defined surrealism as the juxtaposition of the familiar with the fantastic. As TIME correspondents moved through the strange netherworld of the arms trade for this week's cover story, they reflected on their own surrealist experiences — sometimes comical, other times ominous — of encountering weapons both familiar and fantastic, in places both ordinary and exotic. TIME Correspondent Lee Griggs recalled watching a multiple rocket launcher known as a "Stalin organ" being unloaded from a Soviet ship at Luanda harbor in 1975 during...

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