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18 December 1980
Landau: A Great Physicist and Teacher 
by Anna Livanova, translated by J.B. Sykes.
Pergamon, 226 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 00 000002 7
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... Name the greatest Russian physicist of this century. The public vote would go for AndreiSakharov – but for moral stature rather than for contributions to knowledge. A generation ago, Pyotr Kapitza would have been supported by many, in the mistaken belief that he was the master mind behind the ...

When did your eyes open?

Benjamin Nathans: Sakharov

13 May 2010
Meeting the Demands of Reason: The Life and Thought of Andrei​ Sakharov 
by Jay Bergman.
Cornell, 454 pp., £24.95, October 2009, 978 0 8014 4731 0
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... to cast dissidents as surrogate soldiers of Western liberalism in the ideological battles of the Cold War. The surprise of foreign observers was not lost on the dissidents themselves. As one of them, Andrei Amalrik, put it, it was as if an ichthyologist had discovered talking fish. Suddenly there were natives inside the closely guarded Soviet aquarium who could not only speak, but speak their own minds ...
11 July 1991
Moscow and Beyond: 1986-1989 
by Andrei Sakharov.
Hutchinson, 168 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 09 174972 7
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Fatal Half-Measures: The Allure of Democracy in the Soviet Union 
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, edited and translated by Antonia Bovis.
Little, Brown, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1991, 0 316 96883 8
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... the uncovering of its salient crimes, were the main preoccupation of the liberal intelligentsia – both those who had remained within the official fold, like Yevtushenko, and those who had not, like Sakharov. When the anti-Stalinist organisation Memorial was founded in 1988 both men joined its leadership. For Sakharov, Memorial was less important than the battles he fought with other dissident colleagues ...

Jewish in Moscow

Yoram Gorlizki

8 February 1990
... countries, the notion that Jewry is essentially antagonistic to Christendom was carried on into modern times, and despite assuming secular forms, still shapes the ways in which Jews are talked about. AndreiSakharov intimated as much when he remarked, on the occasion of the Sharansky trial, that in the Soviet Union ‘anti-semitism has been raised to the level of a state religion in a godless state ...
26 March 1992
Zinky Boys: The Record of a Lost Soviet Generation 
by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Julia Whitby and Robin Whitby.
Chatto, 192 pp., £9.99, January 1992, 0 7011 3838 6
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... But now I need someone to hate, so that I can find some friends again. But who? A major in the propaganda section of an artillery regiment testifies to the extraordinary moral authority which AndreiSakharov exercised: ‘When I hear people accusing us of killing people over there I could smash their faces in. If you weren’t there and didn’t live through it you have no right to judge us. The ...

Patriotic Work

M.F. Perutz

27 September 1990
Memoirs 
by Andrei Sakharov, translated by Richard Lourie.
Hutchinson, 776 pp., £19.99, July 1990, 0 09 174636 1
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... inventor of the Russian hydrogen bombs; the second was the fearless leader of the Russian intelligentsia’s struggle for human rights. For twenty years, from 1948 until his dismissal in 1968, Sakharov masterminded the scientific groundwork for the development and perfection of ever more lethal atomic weapons, blindly and obsessively absorbed in work that he describes as a theoretician’s paradise ...

Pissing in the Snow

Steven Rose: Dissidents and Scientists

18 July 2019
Freedom’s Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science 
by Audra J. Wolfe.
Johns Hopkins, 302 pp., £22, January 2019, 978 1 4214 2673 0
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... 1939 book The Social Function of Science. By then, however, Stalin had dragooned science and scientists in the USSR into following a rigid party line, and in 1946 theory was ossified in the claim by Andrei Zhdanov, the secretary of the Central Committee of the CP, that the world was divided into two camps: one Soviet and ‘democratic’; the other US-led and ‘imperialistic’. Science, according to ...
8 July 1993
Ablaze: The Story of Chernobyl 
by Piers Paul Read.
Secker, 478 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 436 40963 1
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... Chernobyl could well have been dull: this one is very interesting indeed. The reactor that blew up at Chernobyl was a direct descendant of the prototype built by the team of scientists, including AndreiSakharov, which formed around Igor Kurchatov and, shortly after the war, developed an atomic bomb. That reactor was designed to meet Kurchatov’s requirements by the engineer Nikolai Dollezhal and ...
3 October 1996
Moscow: Governing the Socialist Metropolis 
by Timothy Colton.
Harvard, 958 pp., £25.95, January 1996, 0 674 58741 3
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... own rather than having them approved and sanitised by the Komsomol or the KGB. Some were drawn directly into politics: the most influential were the Memorial Assocation built round the returned exile AndreiSakharov, dedicated to exhuming the memory of the millions of zeks; the Moscow Tribune, the creation of Tatyana Zaslavskaya and Sakharov again, which stood for radical democratic and economic change ...

Good Day, Comrade Shtrum

John Lanchester: Vasily Grossman’s Masterpiece

18 October 2007
Life and Fate 
by Vasily Grossman, translated by Robert Chandler.
Vintage, 864 pp., £9.99, October 2006, 0 09 950616 5
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... friend Semyon Lipkin, had taken precautions. He gave a copy of the manuscript to Lipkin and another to a friend from his student years. Some time later, a microfilm copy of the manuscript was made by AndreiSakharov and Yelena Bonner, and the microfilm was smuggled to the West in 1970 by Vladimir Voinovich. (It must have been a bit like Celebrity Dissident Pass-the-Parcel.) In 1980 the book was ...

People and Martians

Sheila Fitzpatrick

24 January 2019
The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties 
by Robert Conquest.
Bodley Head, 576 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 84792 568 8
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The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine 
by Robert Conquest.
Bodley Head, 412 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 84792 567 1
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... Free Europe’s Ukrainian correspondent in 2006. ‘What I say is if you want to use it you can, but it was invented for rather different purposes.’ Later in the same interview he noted that ‘AndreiSakharov said that Stalin was anti-Ukrainian, and other people have said the same. But he was anti-Ukrainian because they gave him trouble. He was also anti a lot of other people.’ Three years ...

Big Man Walking

Neal Ascherson: Gorbachev’s Dispensation

14 December 2017
Gorbachev: His Life and Times 
by William Taubman.
Simon and Schuster, 880 pp., £25, September 2017, 978 1 4711 4796 8
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... Gorbachev didn’t much care what happened to the Warsaw Pact nations, as long as events there didn’t get in his way in Washington and Moscow. Arguing with Mrs Thatcher, swapping ideas with AndreiSakharov or with heretical Italian communists – that was fun. Remaining patient with stupid old dinosaurs like Erich Honecker or evil goblins like Ceaușescu was a penance. Gorbachev seems to have ...

Moderation or Death

Christopher Hitchens: Isaiah Berlin

26 November 1998
Isaiah Berlin: A Life 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 386 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6325 9
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The Guest from the Future: Anna Akhmatova and Isaiah Berlin 
by György Dalos.
Murray, 250 pp., £17.95, September 2002, 0 7195 5476 4
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... poles, as you might say, are highly charged here. Rather feebly, Ignatieff attributes this vaporous reply to Berlin’s hatred of the Soviet system. A non-sequitur. Apart from anything else, it was AndreiSakharov who educated millions of people to see the obviousness of the points I’ve just made.(Incidentally, and on a point that often gives rise to gossip, Ignatieff asserts that Berlin was as ...
4 April 1996
... remarks, ‘I see only ... a grubby competition for publication and money.’ It is Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s misfortune to have survived into the new age. Alone of the major dissidents – only Sakharov rivalled him in stature – he came back to the country from which he had been expelled twenty years before. The late Joseph Brodsky, asked in July 1995 if he would return, said flatly: ‘I don’t ...

Russia’s Managed Democracy

Perry Anderson: Why Putin?

25 January 2007
... in tears. People dispersed in the drizzle as quietly as they came. The authorities had gone to some lengths to divert Anna Politkovskaya’s funeral from the obvious venue of the Vagankovskoe, where Sakharov is buried, to a dreary precinct on the outskirts that few Muscovites can locate on a map. But how necessary was the precaution? The number of mourners who got to the Troekurovskoe was not large ...

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