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13+ Works 383 Membros 21 Críticas

Obras por Peter Finn

Associated Works

The Mueller Report (2019) — National Security Editor, algumas edições875 exemplares, 26 críticas


Conhecimento Comum



Overall a well written book about the behind the scenes publication of Doctor Zhivago. I learned a lot, both about the book and the political world in which the writing and publication took place.
zizabeph | 16 outras críticas | May 7, 2023 |
After reading Dr. Zhivago as well as Pasternak’s two autobiographical sketches* and also Olga Ivinskaya’s account** of their life together and the events surrounding the publication - or not - of Dr. Zhivago and the 1958 Nobel prize award, I received this book as a present. It was published in 2014 and the authors quote extensively publications and archive sources that have become available since the demise of the USSR (they are listed). What could it reveal that would be new to me?
Its main subject is, as the title indicates, the politics around the publication and subsequent Nobel prize award. I skimmed over details of P’s life and events I already knew - they had to be included for readers unfamiliar with these ; the two questions I was interested in are (i) why was P spared by Stalin and (ii) the extend of CIA involvement in publication and Nobel Prize award.

We will never know the answer to the first of course, only contemporary opinions and speculations. New to me was P’s commemoration in Literaturnaya Gazeta 17.11.1932 with words that could be taken as premonition of Stalin’s wife committing suicide; Stalin is likely to have read this. The émigré scholar M. Koryakov expressed the thought that, as a result, „P without realising it, entered the personal life of Stalin as a ‘Holy fool’ (37) and that in 1949 when there were plans to arrest him, Stalin was supposed to have said: “Leave him, he’s a cloud dweller.“ (67) Interesting! The authors don’t mention, although, in my view, it should have been mentioned, Ivinskaya writing: ‘I believe that between Stalin and Pasternak there was a remarkable, silent duel.’ (A Captive of Time,145).

As to the involvement of the CIA: newly accessible archive material allowed to record this in detail. The CIA set up the printing of a Russian language edition in the Netherlands (rather than in the US) and distribution by any means possible to Soviet citizens, taking great care that its involvement should not be traceable. No lobbying of the Nobel committee is recorded; it was superfluous. There was no need for the CIA to actively engage in anything but freely distribute copies to Russian visitors to the West. The suppression of the book in the Soviet Union caused damage to its cultural diplomacy among allied and non-aligned countries, India being the most important (190f). Khrushchev, later, after his fall, regretted that the book was not published in the USSR: „We caused much harm to the Soviet Union.“ he is quoted to have said (256, 265).

Detailed Notes on sources and an Index are provided. But what fool is responsible for the header that repeats on every single page the authors names and the book-title? In case you forget what you are reading? Chapter headings would make more sense.

Judging by the large amount of sources given, the authors have done a thoroughly researched account of the events surrounding the books publication and Nobel prize award to Pasternak. For anybody interested in all the details it is indispensable; for most who have read Dr. Zhivago and are curious to know just a little more about the events surrounding its publication I would rather recommend the lively written witness account by Olga Ivinskaya, Pasternak’s partner during those years. (VII-22)

* https://www.librarything.com/work/195131/book/103521953 , https://www.librarything.com/work/613414/book/211438106
** Olga Ivinskaya: A Captive of Time: My Years with Pasternak (https://www.librarything.com/review/215697297)
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MeisterPfriem | 16 outras críticas | Jul 31, 2022 |
I understand how and why sub-titles are selected by book publishers - they need a "hook" to capture potential buyers attention, so make things sound very exciting. But often, if I feel a book failed to live up the the publishers implied promise, I'm more disappointed in a book than I might have been otherwise. That's certainly true in the case of "The Zhivago Affair" The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book".

It definitely was NOT an action book / spy story. I found it to be a rather dry story of the troubles Pasternak had in getting his book, Doctor Zhivago, past the soviet censors and published in the Soviet Union during the era of the Cold War. Perhaps the Soviet censors felt it didn't glorify the homeland enough. In any case, the only was Pasternak could have the book published was to allow it to be smuggled out of the U.S.S.R into Italy. Having it published in the West, however, only led to political difficulties for him in his homeland. So the book is more biographical and any CIA involvement was almost incidental. What the book does describe is what life in the USSR may have been like for artists and authors during the cold war, and in that regard, it's fairly interesting.

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rsutto22 | 16 outras críticas | Jul 15, 2021 |
The Book That Came In From the Cold
Review of the Vintage paperback edition (April 2015) of the original Pantheon hardcover edition (June 2014)

I enjoyed the fictionalized version of The Zhivago Affair in Lara Prescott's The Secrets We Kept (Sept. 2019) earlier this year and wanted to read more of the real-life story. Prescott superimposed her original fictional story of intrigues within the CIA on the actual story of Boris Pasternak and the publication of [book:Doctor Zhivago|130440]. Prescott's achievement is somewhat diminished in hindsight as a considerable amount of her book is simply retelling the story from this 2014 investigative work.

Although The Zhivago Affair trumpets about the release of declassified CIA files, it does seem like the co-authors learned more of the story from retired players who spoke under conditions of anonymity and from the more forthcoming Netherlands' Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst (BVD) (National Intelligence and Security Agency) who also participated in the Zhivago publication campaign.

I still found the whole story to be fascinating and the amount of research done by coauthors Peter Finn and Petra Couvée was quite extraordinary.
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alanteder | 3 outras críticas | Dec 8, 2019 |



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