RADIO FREE EUROPE AND THE PURSUIT OF DEMOCRACY by George R. Urban

RADIO FREE EUROPE AND THE PURSUIT OF DEMOCRACY

My War Within the Cold War
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An unusual record of the Cold War which shows that the veterans of the intellectual war were often as brave and determined as the soldiers and spies. Urban was one of that glittering group of European intellectuals, some of them former Communists, who understood that the Cold War was as much an intellectual and moral struggle as a fight for power. Born in Hungary, he arrived in Britain after the end of the WW II, was associated with the magazine Encounter and the BBC European Service, and in the early 1980s became director of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. Today, with the outcome of the ideological struggle a matter of history, it's useful to be reminded by Urban that the outcome was often in doubt--that there were times when it could be bad for one's career prospects to be known as an anti-Communist, when it was seriously asserted that the West was as bad as the Soviet Union, and when the prospect of the Soviet Union outstripping the West was widely canvassed. Urban found the ``moral neutrality, and often direct hostility, of an opinion-making segment of the American intelligentsia . . . a more serious hindrance to our work'' than anything the Soviets could contrive. The radio stations operated within tight constraints: They were not allowed to call for revolution in Soviet-dominated nations, for example (a reflection in part of a serious misjudgment during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, which Urban goes into at length). Nor could they call for the dismemberment of the Soviet empire, whatever its tensions and crimes. And some of the most distinguished critics of the Soviets were intermittently barred from the airwaves by the station's management, in gestures of ``near- appeasement.'' Passionate, courageous, balanced in its assessments, Urban's book is filled with some wise and highly original reflections on the greatest conflict of our times.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-300-06921-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1997