By courageously speaking truth to power, he became the conscience of the cold war and inspired the movement that toppled Soviet communism

In the fall of 1962, when his life took its fateful turn, Andrei Sakharov was not yet known to the world. He was 41 years old, a decorated Soviet physicist developing atomic weapons of terrifying power deep in the heart of the Soviet Union. The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were locked in a frenzied contest for nuclear superiority. That September the Kremlin was to conduct two massive atmospheric tests of bombs that Sakharov had helped design. Sakharov feared the radioactive fallout from the second test would kill hundreds of thousands of civilians. He had also come to believe that another nuclear...

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