Tuesday, June 24, 2014

just took out The Zhivago Affair by Peter Finn and Petra Couvee

Given Doctor Zhivago’s incendiary take on the Russian Revolution, master poet Boris Pasternak arranged for his single novel to be smuggled out of the Soviet Union in 1956 and published abroad in translation. But the CIA recognized its importance in the ideological struggle with communism and in 1958 smuggled a Russian edition back across the border.Washington Post reporter Finn, a two-time Pulitzer finalist, and Couvée, a Dutch writer and translator from the Russian, had access to otherwise closed CIA files to write this book, which is for historians and literature lovers alike.   

Publishers Weekly

PW Reviews 2014 March #3
In brisk and thrilling fashion, Washington Post national security editor Finn and Saint Petersburg State University instructor Couvée take readers into the world of Soviet intelligentsia and shadowy Cold War politics to study how Boris Pasternak came to write and publish Doctor Zhivago (which first appeared in Italy in 1957). The authors use rich archival research, including previously classified CIA files, to depict the oppressive political conditions that gave rise to Pasternak's masterpiece, and the international firestorm that occurred when the novel was banned in the Soviet Union. The book offers nuanced depictions of the people in Pasternak's life, including his lover, Olga Ivinskaya, who championed his work and shared his torment at the hands of the KGB. The torturous ideological policing by the Soviets is discussed to great effect; for indeed, the tale of Doctor Zhivago itself is very much about the long psychic scar left by Russian Revolution. It's a story expertly told by Finn and Couvée, who unsparingly present the role played by the Kremlin in persecuting Pasternak and his loved ones, as well as the role of the CIA in using his masterpiece in a game of ideological warfare—overall, a triumphant reminder that truth is sometimes gloriously stranger than fiction. Agent: Rafe Sagalyn, Sagalyn Literary Agency. (June)                                                                               

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