William Taubman, Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, recently wrote a column for the New York Times’ Book Review section, in which he tells about being engrossed by Vasily Grossman and the Soviet Century, an account by former Soviet journalist Alexandra Popoff, of the life of Russian author Vasily Grossman (1934 -1964), whose major work Life and Fate (1961) was suppressed by the government until 1988.
“Life and Fate was a political bombshell. It was the first Soviet work to equate Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the two totalitarian regimes that confronted each other as enemies in the war,” Taubman wrote. “The official Soviet Writers Union informed Grossman [a famous war correspondent and author of other celebrated novels] that his novel might someday be considered publishable, but ‘perhaps not for 250 years.’”
“As told by Popoff, the stories behind Grossman’s stories, particularly of censors’ efforts to alter and limit them, are fascinating,” Taubman wrote.