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 vel, suppressed by Soviet authorities. From there the life of this extraordinary book entered the realm of the spy vel. 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.)
Peter Finn is National Security Editor for The Washington Post and previously served as the Post s bureau chief in Moscow. Petra Couvee is a writer and translator and teaches at Saint Petersburg State University. The Zhivago Affair is their first collaboration together.