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Doctor Zhivago

“No single man makes history. History cannot be seen, just as one cannot see grass growing. Wars and revolutions, kings and Robespierres, are history's organic agents, its yeast. But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track mind, geniuses in their ability to confine themselves to a limited field. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshiped for decades thereafter, for centuries. ”

- Boris Leonidovich Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

 

CIA Publishes Doctor Zhivago in Russian and Exposes Life in USSR under Communism

The CIA has declassified 99 documents describing the CIA’s role publishing Boris Leonidovich Pasternak’s epic novel, Doctor Zhivago, for the first time in Russian in 1958 after it had been banned from being published in the Soviet Union. The Zhivago project was one of many CIA-supported covert publishing programs that involved distributing banned books, periodicals, pamphlets, and other materials to intellectuals in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. This collection provides a glimpse into a thoughtful plan to accomplish fast turn-around results without doing harm to foreign partners or Pasternak. Following the publication of Doctor Zhivago in Russian in 1958, Pasternak won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the popularity of the book skyrocketed, and the plight of Pasternak in the Soviet Union received global media attention. Moscow had hoped to avoid these precipitous outcomes by initially refusing to publish the novel two years earlier. There is no indication in this collection that having Pasternak win the Nobel Prize was part of the Agency’s original plan; however, it contributed to appeals to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, and it was a blow to those who insisted that the Soviets in 1958 enjoyed internal freedom. Of note, the documents in this collection show how effective “soft power” can influence events and drive foreign policy.

Documents in this Collection

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FOIA

19581119 MEMORANDUM FOR ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR (PLANS): MINIATURE EDITION OF DR. ZHIVAGO

Document Number: 0005796328
Pages:
3

FOIA

19581119 MEMORANDUM FOR CHIEF OF OPERATIONS, DDP: HISTORY OF THE DR. ZHIVAGO MANUSCRIPT

Document Number: 0005796325
Pages:
2

FOIA

19581121 MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD SUBJECT: PUBLICATION OF DR. ZHIVAGO

Document Number: 0005796367
Pages:
4

FOIA

19581121 MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD: PUBLICATION OF DR. ZHIVAGO

Document Number: 0005796335
Pages:
4

FOIA

19581122 CABLE TO DIRECTOR: PLEASE SEND 15 COPIES RUSS EDITION DR. ZHIVAGO

Document Number: 0005796334
Pages:
1

FOIA

19581124 MEMORANDUM FOR THE DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE FROM THE DIRECTOR OF SECURITY: ARTICLE IN THE NATIONAL REVIEW BULLETIN OF 15 NOVEMBER 1958 CONCERNING THE BOOK DR. ZHIVAGO

Document Number: 0005796341
Pages:
9

FOIA

19581125 MEMORANDUM FOR ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR (PLANS): PUBLICATION OF THE RUSSIAN EDITION OF DR. ZHIVAGO

Document Number: 0005796343
Pages:
7

FOIA

19581126 MEMORANDUM FOR ACTING CHIEF, SR DIVISION: LATEST INFORMATION REGARDING RUSSIAN EDITION OF DR. ZHIVAGO

Document Number: 0005796345
Pages:
1

FOIA

19581129 CABLE AEDINOSAUR

Document Number: 0005796346
Pages:
1

FOIA

19581131 MEMORANDUM ON OPERATIONAL FUNDS FOR PURCHASE AND DISTRIBUTION OF 640 COPIES OF THE BRITISH EDITION OF DR. ZHIVAGO BY BORIS PASTERNAK

Document Number: 0005796340
Pages:
2

Pages