Six Books on Russia
Here are six books about the Soviet Union which appeared in 1956, the year of Communism’s greatest travail. Printing schedules being what they are, none of the books includes any systematic account of that travail, and it would be unfair to criticize them for this. What is less understandable is the rapidity with which the six have paled before the explosive events accompanying their publication: they are “dated” not merely in a chronological but in an analytical sense.
The authors of these books were themselves acutely aware of the quicksand character of the ground they were attempting to negotiate, and they try as best they can to square their general observations with the six-inch headlines that burst upon them in the midst of their writing. Harvard’s fine team of Bauer, Inkeles, and Kluckhohn, for example, interlard their acute statistical analysis of the Soviet mentality with certain less acute forecasts of Kremlin policy, carefully noting, as a precaution, the precise month and year at which each forecast was made! The New York Times’s Cyrus Sulzberger combines an interesting travelogue laid in the Soviet world with an off-the-cuff analysis of the post-Stalin transformation, to which he appends a “postscript” apologizing for his advocacy of Titoism, an apology presumably motivated by some last-minute reappraisal of the situation.
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