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The Dissident

Shyam Kamath

By Andrei D. Sakharov
Penguin Books, New Delhi, India, 1976, 137, 0.60

By Andrei D. Sakharov
Fontana, 1975, 191, 0.60

By Andrei D. Sakharov
Collins & Harvill Press, 1976, 109, 2.25

VOLUME II NUMBER 3 May-June 1977

The Soviet dissident-author has al­ways been welcomed by the western press. The reasons are fairly obvious. One, he sells well; two, if he is still resi­dent in Russia, foreign publishers need not necessarily pay the author royalties for their translations, in view of the Soviet Union's refusal (until recently) to subscribe to international copyright agreements. In fact, a number of or­ganizers of 'anti-Soviet funds' and 'anti­communist causes' evidently rely to some extent on editions of Soviet authors published abroad for  definite part of their income—whether they be trans­lations of Solzhenitsyn, Kuznetsov, Sholokov, Medvedev or Sakharov. These reasons coupled together provide the western publisher with an ideal situation. He can have the cake and eat it too. However, the interest of the reading public at large in books by Soviet dissi­dents has a major underlying concern—to find out what is 'really' going on in that vast country, besides the officially published statements and pro-Soviet eye­witness accounts. And especially if the author is a prominent figure within Russia, the interest is worldwide and most often sensational. Andrei Sakharov's name as a promi­nent Soviet dissident came to be known to the western world with the publica­tion of his famous manifesto, Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom, in 1968. ‘Father’ of the Hydrogen Bomb, member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, winner of the Stalin Prize and three Orders of Socialist Labour (the highest civilian honour in the Soviet Union), and one of the greatest intellects of our age like Oppenheimer, Rutherford, Bohr and Einstein in the realm of physics—the views of such a man could not go unnoticed. True, Solzhenitsyn, to quote Zhores Medvedev ‘had opened a large breach in the concrete of the wall of silence’ (about Stalinist and pre-Stalinist terror, and the failings of Soviet society), but then Sakharov held a unique posi­tion that even Solzhenitsyn did not have—of being in the top echelons of the Soviet hierarchy, particularly in the community of the most privileged and relatively rare group of the Russian intelligentsia, the Soviet scientist. He had been the privileged scientist in the thick of the Soviet effort for winning the arms race, which he felt at that time was clearly in the interest of humanity, for close to 18 years before he made the transition from brilliant fusion physicist to concerned commentator on world affairs and human ...

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