CITIZEN DIPLOMATS: Pathfinders in Soviet-American Relations And How You Can Join Them by Gale & Michael Shuman Warner

CITIZEN DIPLOMATS: Pathfinders in Soviet-American Relations And How You Can Join Them

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A disingenuous account in some detail of certain Americans who essentially dropped everything in order to become part of Soviet propaganda efforts in the name of ""good will"" and ""peace."" Of course, however good the motivation, the result is naive in the extreme; while the authors admit this is a fair critical reaction to these stories, nevertheless they are unabashed advocates of such people as schoolgirl Samantha Smith or oilman Armand Hammer. Less familiar stories are included here too, such as that of an Iowa banker who kept a six-foot tall poster of Lenin in his office. Since all of the folks here had different motivations, it is very difficult to group them together meaningfully, as the authors have tried to do. Hammer's vast business dealings were enough of a motivation for his sympathy with the Soviets, without dragging in charges about Hammer's communist father, as Warner has done. But for those less rich than Hammer, some of their motives seem less attractive. Even innocent Samantha Smith became, before her death in an air accident, a kind of victim of a media blitz of incredible intensity. She had already appeared at age 10 as a TV hostess, and she was on her way to England to film a TV series when her plane crashed. The Iowa banker, it is justly implied, might be better concentrating his energy on the appalling plight of the farmers in his region. In their quest for vague good will, all of these cases cited have ignored the very real present sufferings of many Soviets, whether dissidents or Jews. For all the ""citizen diplomats"" involved in a Moscow book fair here, it was not until 1977, for example, that a publisher from America of Jewish books was permitted to join the rest of the exhibitors. Chilling in its naivetÉ.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1987
Publisher: Continuum