Involuntary Journey to Siberia

Involuntary Journey to Siberia

4.21 (23 ratings by Goodreads)
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Product details

  • Hardback | 294 pages
  • 140 x 200mm
  • United Kingdom
  • Russian
  • 0156453940
  • 9780156453943

Review Text

Russian historian and playwright Andrei Amalrik's answer to Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984? (p. 137) was a gloomy nyet. With a Soviet state that is increasingly bureaucratized, isolated, and stagnant and an unstable society seething under the surface with national hatreds, with masses lacking in democratic instincts and middle-class democrats lacking in numbers, Amalrik foresees a decade-long scenario of disintegration and collapse. This earlier work, available in Russian ($10.00; paper $7.50) but not in Russia, is less apocalyptic in its vision but offers some of the same criticisms of the Soviet state and society. It is a personal record of Amalrik's life in Moscow, where he was spied on by neighbors and harassed by police because of his associations with avant-garde artists and foreigners, and his exile to Siberia in 1965 on charges of "parasitism," a handy catchall for disposing of dissident intellectuals. Amalrik's spell in Siberia was short, but long enough for him to become totally disillusioned with collective farm life, the backwardness and inefficiency of agricultural methods and the apathy and passivity of the peasant population. A resolute nonconformist, Amalrik writes with remarkable frankness and detached humor about situations that he wouldn't have survived under Stalin. What gives Amalrik room for maneuver in his dealings with the Soviet authorities is the post-Stalin decline of the totalitarian structure, the desire of the government bureaucracy, including even the police, to give at least the appearance of observing Soviet law. In addition, Amalrik was able to play upon the interdepartmental rivalry between the relatively moderate ordinary police and the more highhanded secret police. (Amalrik's luck ran out recently: he was arrested again for "slandering the Soviet state.") A straightforward journal which does not omit "the boring details of which the life of a prisoner or exile mostly consist," it is nonetheless a fascinating view inside Russia. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Rating details

23 ratings
4.21 out of 5 stars
5 48% (11)
4 26% (6)
3 26% (6)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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