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Publisher's Summary

In May of 1956, an Italian publishing scout took a train to the Russian countryside to visit the country's most beloved poet, Boris Pasternak. He left concealing the original manuscript of Pasternak's much anticipated first novel, entrusted to him with these words from the author: "This is Doctor Zhivago. May it make its way around the world." Pasternak knew his novel would never be published in the Soviet Union, where the authorities regarded it as an assault on the 1917 Revolution, so he allowed it to be published in translation all over the world. But in 1958, the CIA, which recognized that the Cold War was above all an ideological battle, published Doctor Zhivago in Russian and smuggled it into the Soviet Union where it was snapped up on the black market and passed surreptitiously from friend to friend. Pasternak, whose funeral in 1960 was attended by thousands of fans who stayed for hours in defiance of the watching KGB, launched the great Soviet tradition of the writer-dissident. With sole access to otherwise classified CIA files, the authors give us an irresistible portrait of the charming and passionate Pasternak and a twisting Cold War thriller that takes us back to a time when literature had power to shape the world.
©2014 Peter Finn and Petra Couvée. Recorded by arrangement with Pantheon Books, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. (P)2014 HighBridge Company
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By D. Littman on 06-27-14

wonderful book

Would you listen to The Zhivago Affair again? Why?

Yes eventually. Very moving history book.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

In the latter portion of the book, when Pasternak, his family & his mistress family were being unjustly persecuted by the Soviet state & it's corrupt literary hierarchy I got very mad.

Any additional comments?

Just a terrific book of political & literary history. Very moving & impossible to put down.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful


By KathrynVB on 10-16-14

Read this to understand Doctor Zhivago and Russia

I remember reading in the 1960s that there was great drama in the publishing of Doctor Zhivago in the west, and in Boris Pasternak being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. This is the story of that drama. "The Zhivago Affair" will give you a better understanding of the times and how difficult it was for Pasternak to publish an honest book about Russia in the early days of the USSR. We can only dimly imagine how fraught with terror were the lives of Russian intellectuals. This is a wonderful history of the author, the book he wrote, and the consequences of its publication.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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