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Sparks of Liberty: An Insider's Memoir of Radio Liberty Paperback – May 10, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0271027302 ISBN-10: 0271027304

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What If? by Randall Munroe
From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, find hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. Learn more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press (May 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0271027304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0271027302
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 9.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,525,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Taking an insider's look at a little-known chapter of Cold War history, Sosin, a senior adviser to, and broadcast planning director of, the Munich-based station in the 1960s and '70s, tells how Radio Liberty went after the hearts and minds of people in the U.S.S.R., while it struggled to survive incessant jamming, a Kremlin campaign of vilification and infiltration by spies. Radio Liberty's first broadcast in 1953 occurred, by a strange twist of fate, hours before Stalin suffered a stroke; he died four days later. Sosin's account, drawing on confidential and previously unpublished documents, reveals, for instance, how Radio Liberty disseminated the content of Khrushchev's key 1956 anti-Stalin speech, given to a closed session of the Communist Party. The station, claims Sosin, became the principal forum for airing samizdatAthat is, uncensored, self-published calls by dissidents such as Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov for human rights and an end to one-party dictatorship. The station also broadcast Eleanor Roosevelt, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Linus Pauling, Martin Luther King Jr., ex-Communist novelist Howard Fast and Trotsky's widow, Natalia Sedova. In 1971, Senator J. William Fulbright, opposing the Cold War, widely publicized the fact that Radio Liberty was secretly subsidized by Congress via the CIA, but the station weathered the storm, merging in 1975 with Radio Free Europe (which had primarily targeted Eastern Europe). Sosin ends by arguing that RFE/RL (now headquartered in Prague) has a continuing role to play, working for democratic pluralism and opposing xenophobic nationalism in the former Soviet Union. Photos.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Gene Sosin, former director of program planning for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is also a contributing author to Dissent in the USSR (1975) and other books on Russia.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ozymandias on March 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who is interested in the history of international media and how the Cold War was won by the West should read this book--it was extremely well-written, informative and engaging. The author, a former Radio Liberty programming executive and PhD in Russian from Columbia, has put together a fascinating account of the mission of Radio Liberty (RL) from its beginning broadcast at the time of Stalin's death in 1953 to its joining force with Radio Free Europe (RFE) in 1976 as RFE/RL. The book ends with RFE/RL's current status at the end of the 1990s. It was very interesting to read this account from a Western viewpoint of how the emigre Russian intelligentsia connected with the intelligentsia and average citizen in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In many ways this account is a heroic but not overly aggrandized portrait of how the idea of freedom of speech rent the Iron Curtain by means of radio broadcasts--it could have been very pro-Western and propagandistic in outlook but wasn't, thank goodness. The book seems fairly balanced in that it also discusses internal problems the Radio staff had over a period of time--these conflicts were in effect microcosms of the ethnic tensions that existed within the Soviet Union. I found it also to be a case study on international broadcasting and how the U.S. government has decided to fund it in the past and the present. After finishing this, I wanted to read more books about the history of the dissident movement in the Soviet Union and the history of Western broadcasting.
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