Samizdat--the covert circulation of typescripts of articles and books that's the only mode of publication for Soviet...


AN END TO SILENCE: Uncensored Opinion in the Soviet Union from Roy Medvedev's Magazine Political Diary

Samizdat--the covert circulation of typescripts of articles and books that's the only mode of publication for Soviet dissidents--has by now become a familiar term to American readers. Princeton political scientist Cohen has here collected a selection from one of the major, but now defunct, ""magazines,"" the Political Diary. Hand-produced by its editor Roy Medvedev, the prolific historian (Let History Judge), and running from 20 to 200 typed pages, the magazine had some 40 or 50 regular readers during its period of existence, from 1964 to 1971. Unlike one of its successors, the Chronicle of Current Events, Political Diary was intended to be kept a secret, and apparently was. The secrecy was partly because most of its writers and readers were members of the Communist Party (often in positions of some power), who, after the fall of Khrushchev, feared a return to Stalinist politics and took it upon themselves to debate the experience and meaning of Stalinism. Thus, Andrei Sakharov's contribution--a discussion with Ernst Henry (Soviet contact man for British spies Philby, Maclean, Burgess, and Blunt) on the responsibility of scientists to curb nuclear weapons--dates from before his fall from grace (1967), when he was still a man of official standing. Other familiar names include recent ÉmigrÉ Lev Kopelev, and poets Yevgeny Yevtuschenko, Andrei Voznesensky, and Aleksandr Tvardovsky. The selections cover the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, the chronicling of Stalinist ""crimes,"" the encouragement of detente (an article by ""Mathemetician N"" argues that democratization of the Soviet Union is the best way of insuring detente), and myriad political and economic concerns central to Soviet citizens. The magazine came to an end when it was no longer possible to be both inside the Party and a critic--evidence of the failure of those represented here. The collection has mainly a documentary importance now, chiefly for scholars; but it at least indicates that there was a time when some people were trying to change the Soviet regime from within.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981

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