An End to Silence: Uncensored Opinion in the Soviet Union from Roy Medvedev's Underground Magazine Political Diary

An End to Silence: Uncensored Opinion in the Soviet Union from Roy Medvedev's Underground Magazine Political Diary

An End to Silence: Uncensored Opinion in the Soviet Union from Roy Medvedev's Underground Magazine Political Diary

An End to Silence: Uncensored Opinion in the Soviet Union from Roy Medvedev's Underground Magazine Political Diary

Excerpt

Western misperceptions of the Soviet Union usually are the result of gray stereotypes that obscure diversity and complexity. This book is the product of the multicolored realities of Soviet political life since Stalin's death in 1953.

The book's contents are drawn from an unusual underground publication, Political Diary, a monthly bulletin—journal or magazine are also appropriate characterizations—that circulated secretly among a small group of people between October 1964 and March 1971. Political Diary's readers included prominent intellectuals in the Soviet Establishment as well as dissidents. Its creator and editor was Roy Medvedev, the now famous historian and political dissident, who tells the inside story of Political Diary in a special introduction to this book.

Political Diary is an extraordinary example of Soviet samizdat, or "self‐ published" typescripts that circulate from reader to reader in defiance of official censorship. Though the device probably is as universal and old as censorship itself, samizdat became a mass phenomenon in the Soviet Union only in the second half of the 1960s. It sprang up to express the uncensored views not only of political dissidents but of a larger segment of the Soviet intelligentsia that had been emboldened, after Stalin's long reign of terror, by Khrushchev's reforms of 1953-64, and then frustrated by the conservatism of Khrushchev's successors. Samizdat output has diminished since the mid-1970s, but it remains, despite official repression, a regular feature of Soviet political and intellectual life. It has put into circulation thousands of separate items, from one-page protests to full‐ scale books and periodicals such as Political Diary.

The importance of samizdat and open dissent in the Soviet Union should be understood properly. Public assertion of political liberties, especially the samizdat principle of free expression, is a significant development in a country where for . . .

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