The idea to write this book originated in 2000 when Vladimir A. Belugin—who had been director of VNIIEF at the time of the initial laboratory directors exchange visits—and Siegfried Hecker agreed to jointly author an article commemorating the tenth anniversary of the visits and document the remarkable nuclear scientific cooperation that ensued. Sadly, Belugin passed away shortly after an outline was crafted. In 2010, Hecker proposed a similar commemoration for the twentieth anniversary of the visits to VNIIEF Director Rady I. Ilkaev, who had been deeply involved in collaborations from the beginning. Ilkaev thought that there was so much to tell and so many people to involve that he believed they should write a book, not an article. Hecker and Ilkaev asked Evgeny N. Avrorin, former director of VNIITF, to join them as a co-editor, and together they planned to enlist some of the key scientists and engineers from the three nuclear weapons laboratories on each side to describe their experiences.
In order to solicit papers from Russian and American scientists, conferences were organized in Russia in 2012 and 2013 in order for the contributors to tell their stories. Unfortunately, by early 2014 the book project was impacted by the crisis in Ukraine and the dramatic worsening of relations between Moscow and Washington. The crisis slowed the writing process, but most of the individual contributions from the scientists and engineers on both sides was received by the end of 2014. However, in early 2015 Ilkaev and Avrorin told Hecker that the deepening political crisis would no longer allow them to publish one book in two languages. Rather, they suggested that two separate books be published, both based on the material already completed by individual authors. This book constitutes the American version, and the Russian book is scheduled to follow.