Today’s guests, Peter Finn and Petra Couvee, discuss their book on the golden age of CIA influence campaigns, The Zhivago Affair.
Within a larger narrative about the life and Russia’s persecution of poet and novelist Boris Pasternak, Finn and Couvee describe CIA’s successful efforts to publish and distribute Pasternak’s Nobel Prize-winning novel, Dr. Zhivago. Somehow, MI6 got a copy of the manuscript and shared it with the CIA, which had it published in Russian by a Dutch publisher and distributed at the Vatican’s exhibit at the 1958 Brussels World Fair. Russian efforts to suppress the book and its coercion of Pasternak to publicly disclaim the publication and the Nobel prize brought international criticism. The operation was — Finn and Couvee describe CIA concluding — “a successful stunt.”