By Richard Lourie
(Brandeis University Press, Hardcover, 9781584652076, 465pp.)
Publication Date: January 2002
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Richard Lourie, who translated Sakharov's memoirs, has now written the first full biography of this towering figure of the last century. Drawing on a wide range of sources--including previously secret KGB files, as well as Sakharov's own correspondence--Lourie tells the story of a life intimately bound up with Soviet history. With the H-bomb, Sakharov made the Soviet Union a superpower; with his courage and moral conviction, he made it accountable to the world for its treatment of its citizens. His untimely death in December 1989 cut short a budding career as a politician, for at the end of his life, Sakharov had been elected to the Congress of People's Deputies and was engaged in a campaign to reform the Soviet constitution.
As a scientist, Sakharov not only helped change the world through the creation of thermonuclear weapons, he also engaged in theoretical research whose ultimate significance is yet to be determined. As a Russian, he has been ranked by his own people with Lenin and Stalin in terms of his influence on the country. As a human being, he set a standard for principled dissent and compassion acknowledged the world over. This intelligent, detailed biography does justice to all aspects of his multi-faceted achievements.