Picks and Pans Review: On Sakharov

updated 02/14/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/14/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

edited by Alexander Babyonyshev

Andrei Dmitriyevich Sakharov is the Soviet nuclear physicist turned disarmament and human rights advocate who has earned a Nobel Peace Prize (1975) and harassed exile to the isolated industrial city of Gorky 250 miles east of Moscow for his troubles. This book, a collection of essays, poems and letters by and about him, is not without flaws. Tributes to even the most self-sacrificing, admirable people can get tedious when delivered en masse. And editor Babyonyshev, a recent Soviet émigré who lives in Watertown, Mass., has included some evidence of Sakharov's scientific genius that is on the thick side for a layperson. Many of the tributes, however, especially those by Soviet dissidents who still live in the U.S.S.R., are touching. Maria Petrenko-Podyapolskaya, a geologist and human rights advocate who lives in Moscow, writes of Sakharov's concern for individuals—including herself after the death of her husband—as well as for mankind in general. She observes, "Someday, when life is easier and I have some leisure, I will write in detail about the feelings experienced in our difficult times, and on that basis historians and writers will reconstruct not only the succession of events but the taste of our bitter age." (Knopf, $15.95)

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