The Pulitzer Prize Story: News Stories, Editorials, Cartoons, and Pictures from the Pulitzer Prize Collection at Columbia University

By John Hohenberg | Go to book overview

VI. WHEN AMERICAN REPORTERS
PIERCED THE IRON CURTAIN

Ivan, the mightiest Russian of them all, has fascinated American correspondents for two generations.

It isn't very easy to get to Ivan. You'll never meet him outside the Iron Curtain. He's not the diplomatic type, and he also isn't the kind who's wanted as an official Soviet propagandist (tourist, that is). Nor is Ivan readily available if you feel a great desire to hunt him up and talk with him at home. He doesn't take to foreigners for reasons that are too distressingly obvious in a police state.

Ivan is the average Russian. He's the little man who goes about his work quietly under the hard rule of a dictatorial, and often cruel, government. When Stalin ruled, Ivan and his wife and children toiled to put over the Five Year Plans. After Hitler's attack, Ivan fought and bled and many of his sons died. Now, under Khrushchev, he is in the factories making Sputniks, rockets, atomic bombs, and all manner of scientific devices that challenge that strange, strange land across the North Pole—the United States.

Just why Ivan supports his masters and puts up with their weird gyrations in the name of Communism is something that Americans have always wondered about. Stories of the average Russian pop up year after year in the Pulitzer Prize files—stories by Paul Ward of the Baltimore Sun, Eddy Gilmore of the Associated Press, Harrison Salisbury of the New York Times and the many, many others who preceded them and who have since gone behind the Iron Curtain.

There isn't any particular conclusion to be drawn from all this careful reporting and writing, except that the Russians we see in

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