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Mig Pilot: The Final Escape of Lt. Belenko Paperback – October 1, 1983
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I was so blown away by this book I had to meet Viktor in person and now count him as a personal friend. The book is factual in every respect and is difficult to put down once started. John Barron is an excellent author and did a first class job of writing Viktor's story. In addition to an exciting escape story it reveals why the Soviet Union had to collapse of its own ineptitude, deceit, and corruption. It details humorous incidents such as army pilots' mess-hall riots due to bad food. Mig Pilot is also a biography of an exceptional man whose intelligence saw through a lifetime of brainwashing. The story is humorous in places and engrossing from beginning to end. It starts right out with Viktor's desperate and harrowing escape flight to freedom in his top-secret Mig-25 Foxbat, then in subsequent chapters details the life events that led to his courageous decision to "go for broke" and make his live-or-die dash to freedom. It illustrates how America probably could have given the Soviets all of its top secrets and they would have found a way to screw up making use of them.Viktor is not only a first class pilot, he is also a true hero. Don't lend this book to anyone and expect to get it back.
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And so it is. Every American should read this. Just as the history of capitalism has been smeared and obliterated, so the true nature of communism has been whitewashed. This book concretizes the latter in a moving and brilliant way.
I'm a very poor reader but I stuck with the book and finished it in 3 days (I told you I was a poor reader) You will probably finish it in one sitting.Yes it's that interesting, if you love truth and history instead of novels.
Viktor Belenko was a Soviet fighter pilot who defected to Japan in the 1970s -- in his top-secret Mig 25 "Foxbat", at the time the world's fastest and most feared interceptor. On the surface he seemed an extremely unlikely candidate to jump the fence of the worker's paradise: the son of a decorated partisan fighter of the Second World War, he had overcome his poverty-stricken family's lack of political connections with a Samurai-like work-ethic and, against all odds, become a pilot of the most coveted and jealously-guarded aircraft in the USSR. He made good money, had the best priveleges, and could have looked forward to a cushy retirement when he was only 40 years old. His defection was as much a question of "Why?" as a question of "How?"
Author John Barron writes a compact, highly readable account of Belenko's life and the long series of incidents which turned him from an idealistic young communist, who sheds tears over the death of Stalin, to a man so filled with hatred for the regime he seeks not merely to escape it but to hurt it in the most grievous possible way -- by handing its most precious secrets to the enemy.
"Mig Pilot" is one of those stories that can be enjoyed on several levels. Read through quickly, it is a first-class adventure, a "will he or won't he get away with this" thriller. Read more slowly and thoughtfully, it is a terse, often humorous, yet ultimately horrifyingly revealing tale of what life was like under the communist system -- a system so corrupt, incompetently managed and morally bankrupt it drove some to suicide, most to intellectual surrender, and a tiny few to risk their lives just to get the hell away from it.
Barron litters the book with anecdotes about the grotesquerie that was the Soviet Union: about buildings so shoddily constructed they crack apart with their inhabitants still in them; officials so corrupt they refuse to perform their jobs unless paid substantial bribes; crime so rampant that people are stabbed to death for the clothes on their backs; enlisted men treated so badly they riot, desert and murder; and a system of informers so all-pervading that only the most dishonest man could ever rise to the top. Everywhere you look is filth, corruption, lying, hypocrisy, and cant, all set to the tune of patriotic music and propaganda slogans that bear about as much resemblance to reality as a Tom & Jerry cartoon. It's Orwell's "1984", with worse technology.
Ultimately, though, the book is not about oppression but rather freedom -- the indestructable, indefatigable desire for human beings to breathe and think and speak their minds, without wondering if the secret police will take them away to a death camp or a mental institution for their troubles. Belenko, for all his perks and petty priveleges, found himself unable to play the role of [...]to the communist party's pimp. He risked everything on the gamble that, somewhere over the horizon, there was a better way. If Barron, who is admittedly jingoistic American patriot of the cardboard sort, made the better way look a bit too close to perfect....well, to Belenko's eyes, maybe close to perfect was perfect enough. To paraphrase Howard Fast, whose (ironically) pro-communist novel "Spartacus" served as Belenko's lifelong inspiration:
"As long as men suffered, and other men profited from those who suffered, the name of Viktor Belenko would be remembered, whispered sometimes and shouted loud and clear at others."[...]