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The Zhivago Affair

The Zhivago Affair is the dramatic, never-before-told story drawing on newly declassified files of how a forbidden book became a secret CIA weapon in the ideological battle between East and West. In May 1956, an Italian publishing scout went to a village outside Moscow to visit Russia s greatest living poet, Boris Pasternak. He left carrying the manuscript of Pasternak s only novel, suppressed by Soviet authorities. From there the life of this extraordinary book entered the realm of the spy novel. The CIA published a Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago and smuggled it into the Soviet Union. Copies were devoured in Moscow and Leningrad, sold on the black market, and passed from friend to friend. Pasternak s funeral in 1960 was attended by thousands who defied their government to bid him farewell, and his example launched the great tradition of the Soviet writer-dissident. First to obtain CIA files providing proof of the agency s involvement, Peter Finn and Petra Couvee take us back to a remarkable Cold War era when literature had the power to stir the world. (With 8 pages of black-and-white illustrations.)"
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About the Author

Peter Finn is National Security Editor for The Washington Post and previously served as the Post's bureau chief in Moscow. Petra Couv�e is a writer and translator and teaches at Saint Petersburg State University. The Zhivago Affair is their first collaboration together.


"Beautifully crafted and scrupulously researched. . . . A kind of intellectual thriller. . . . Well-paced and exciting." --Alan Furst, The Washington Post "A fascinating book that is thoroughly researched, extraordinarily accurate in its factual details, judicious in its judgments, and destined to remain the definitive work on the subject for a very long time to come." --New York Review of Books "Riveting, well-researched . . . Reads like a literary thriller." --The New Republic "A rich and unanticipated story. . . . Finn and Couv�e's poignant depiction of Pasternak is the book's greatest strength." --The Daily Beast "A work of deep historical research that reads a little like Le Carr�. . . . The authors show how both sides in the Cold War used literary prestige as a weapon without resorting to cheap moral equivalency." --New York "An informative, fascinating, and often moving account of personal courage, espionage and propaganda, and the role of literature in the political struggle for the hearts and minds of people." --Huffington Post "Thrilling. . . . Deftly combining biography, cultural history and literary tittle-tattle, [Finn and Couv�e] have shone a light on a shadowy operation. . . . Crushingly poignant." --Newsday "Fascinating. . . . The story of how Doctor Zhivago helped disrupt the Soviet Union holds some intriguing implications for the present and future of cultural conflict." --The Atlantic "A remarkable story and fully sourced book, the scholarship peerless but never eclipsing one amazingly humanist story of a towering figure." --New York Journal of Books "The authors persuasively argue that the ripples from the publication of this single book affected not only the author, his family and his friends, but also changed the balance of power in the world during a critical period." -- Columbus Dispatch "A galloping page-turner and a stark picture of a nation ruled by terror and unreason, which reads like a sinister rewrite of Alice in Wonderland." --Sunday Times (London) "Extraordinary. . . . There is much to think about in The Zhivago Affair the nature of genius; the terror that leads people to betray friends; and, above all, the potency of fiction. . . . The Zhivago Affair reveals the story of that triumph with vibrant authenticity and calm analysis." --The Independent on Sunday (London) "Excellent, superbly researched, and as exciting in its way as any Cold War thriller. Pasternak himself emerges clearly and strongly in all his complexity. This was the most important literary controversy of the post-war world, and Finn and Couv�e have presented it with immense care and colour. The aftermath of the affair still has resonance even now." --John Simpson, BBC News "Finn and Couv�e deal objectively with the characters involved and tell the story with exceptional vivacity." --Literary Review "Fascinating... [Finn and Couv�e] manage to shed new light on both the period and the characters involved." --Financial Times "An extraordinary, gripping tale of art and espionage, The Zhivago Affair embodies the belief shared by its flamboyant cast of geniuses, barbarians, lovers and eccentrics: books matter." --A. D. Miller, author of Snowdrops

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