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Sakharov: A Biography Hardcover – January 1, 2002

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This first biography of the renowned physicist, Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner weaves the details of Sakharov's life together with the history of the Soviet Union, which barely outlasted him. Lourie (Autobiography of Joseph Stalin), the translator of Sakharov's memoirs, touches briefly on Sakharov's scientific innovations (he was pivotal in the development of the H-bomb), but is primarily interested in his political life. Relying on published sources, correspondence and memoirs, he describes Sakharov's upbringing in a liberal family and his rise through the Soviet science program during the 1930s and '40s. Lourie's vivid accounts of Sakharov's meetings with Stalin and KGB chief Beria, his role in the intelligentsia, his marriages and his cramped apartments offer a textured picture of Soviet life during the Cold War. Yet his explanations of what motivated Sakharov to sacrifice the perks of being a Soviet hero for the dangers of political dissidence he was placed under house arrest in the city of Gorky for six years are speculative and less satisfying. Part of the problem appears to be Sakharov himself: he "is as elusive in death as in life," Lourie admits in the final few pages. Despite this weakness, Lourie's intelligent, engaging biography will be appreciated by those interested in Russian and Cold War history. Photos not seen by PW.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In contrast to two of Lourie's previous Russian-oriented works, Hunting the Devil and The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin: A Novel, this fine book about a truly great man probes the mystery of virtue. Lourie traces the young Sakharov's upbringing and early years, his love of physics, and his survival under the brutal conditions of the Stalinist Soviet Union in war and peace. He was drafted in 1948 to work on the Soviet H-bomb project and was lavishly rewarded for his work. Soon he began to comprehend the utter insanity of thermonuclear war. In the post-Stalinist decades, he became leader of the loyal opposition to Soviet military and political policies and a champion of human rights. Lourie focuses on this process, presenting a striking portrait of the crude, bullying tyranny of Soviet power against one man strong only in his moral courage and convictions, ably seconded by his equally fearless wife and partner, Elena Bonner. Sakharov is well served by this biography, which is recommended for academic and general collections. Robert H. Johnston, McMaster Univ., Hamilton, Ont.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.85 pounds
  • Hardcover : 480 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1584652071
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1584652076
  • Product Dimensions : 6.25 x 1.25 x 9 inches
  • Publisher : Brandeis University Press; 1st Edition (January 1, 2002)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.9 out of 5 stars 7 ratings
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