TO BUILD A CASTLE: My Life as a Dissenter by Vladimir Bukovsky
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TO BUILD A CASTLE: My Life as a Dissenter

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Bukovsky's sub-title is no mere flourish; until his exchange last year for a Chilean Communist leader, more than half of his 37 years had been spent in trouble and/or prison in the Soviet Union. A fanatic of the old school, Bukovsky always saw the equation clearly: ""the longer the stretch they gave me, the more I tried to do when I was let out; and the more I did, the longer the next stretch they gave me."" Totally anti-Bolshevik (""Lenin had but one principle--to supply a theoretical basis for each concrete step he took""), Bukovsky began anti-state activities at age 14, after the Hungarian Revolution; a school satirical magazine followed thereafter, then participation in public poetry readings in Mayakovsky Square in 1961. Arrested, he's thrown into the first of many psychiatric hospitals. ""Tell me, have you ever been bitten by mosquitoes?"" Answer yes, and bang!--a diagnosis: ""pathological aftereffects of malaria."" (Subsequent diagnoses are more subtle--""creeping schizophrenia""--but hardly less bizarre.) Bukovsky's final imprisonment was for supplying information to Western correspondents; much of what we know is thanks to him. His sense of mission mutes some of the prison-is-hell-type testimony we often get; whatever hell he lived through he completely expected--and what is notable here is the revolving, buzzing, feverish commitment (and consequent scorn for the West's gutlessness). Bukovsky would have made a wonderful Jesuit, fleet and smart and selfless.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1978
Publisher: Viking