Declassified documents show the CIA used copies of Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak’s epic novel as a tool to try to provoke dissent in the Soviet Union. The book was banned in the USSR.
The CIA recognized the novel’s “great propaganda value,” according to a 1958 memo, and had the novel printed and disseminated. The agency called the book “a passive but piercing exposition of the effect of the Soviet system on the life of a sensitive intelligent citizen.” The memo notes the book is valuable “not only for its intrinsic message and thought-provoking nature, but to make Soviet citizens wonder what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”
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