LEONID I. BREZHNEV: Pages From His Life by USSR Academy of Sciences
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LEONID I. BREZHNEV: Pages From His Life

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The publication of Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev's official biography is a commendable attempt to dispel some of our ignorance about his life. Written anonymously under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR the result makes strange reading for those unfamiliar with official Soviet biographies. This is a sycophantic hymn to an infallible ruler born to be a star. Some insight is provided into Brezhnev's meteoric rise through the Communist Party apparatus and his World War II service. As a third generation proletariat, Brezhnev's credentials were in order from birth and he was among the ""thousands"" drafted by Stalin early in his reign to attend higher technical schools and become the new elite. This account suffers from important omissions. Incredibly, Stalin, the sun for ambitious Party men of Brezhnev's generation, appears only twice. Even more incredibly, Khrushchev, the man Brezhnev replaced, is mentioned only once in the single obscenely brief paragraph that deals with his ouster. No mention is made of what Brezhnev's own role was in this affair. The writers seem to confusingly view Brezhnev's life as a secondary subject that takes up less than half the book. Instead their main concern is to demonstrate, with the aid of abundant quotes, his single-minded dedication to world peace. In Brezhnev's own words, detente is the key to peace because the US and USSR have ""a special responsibility for the fate of world peace, for preventing war."" Yet there is none of the candidness here that was, for example, so apparent in Khrushchev's memoirs; the reader has little help in judging the sincerity of Brezhnev's convictions. The real Brezhnev remains hidden behind the official image.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1978
Publisher: Simon & Schuster