To Build a Castle: My Life as a Dissenter by Vladimir Bukovsky soon to be presented for sale on the fantastic BookLovers of Bath web site!
Published: London: Andre Deutsch, 1978, Hardback in dust wrapper.
From the cover: Vladimir Bukovsky has spent twelve of his thirty-five years over half his adult life in prisons, labour camps and psychiatric hospitals. He was only a student when he was arrested for the first time, a victim of the crackdown on political demonstrations in the early 19605. He was expelled from university and physically attacked by the KGB after organising readings of unpublished poets in Mayakovsky Square in Moscow. Two years later, in 1963, he was sentenced without trial to indefinite detention in the prison hospital at Leningrad, where ten per cent of the inmates were political prisoners like himself. From then on he was perpetually in and out of prison, struggling to come to terms with his persecution: threats against his family, continual attempts to trap and tame him, severe physical deprivation of all kinds.
A born fighter, convinced that passive resignation is no answer to an overwhelmingly powerful State, Bukovskys response to oppression was to learn to manipulate the system, to get to know it so well that he was often better informed than his interrogators. He came to take an almost perverse delight in beating the authorities at their own game: he obtained Western books by playing off one department of the police against another; he taught the other prisoners how to demand their legal rights and protest against their conditions; he once almost brought a prison administration to a halt by organising a barrage of complaints which Soviet law obliged the Ministry of the Interior to take seriously. He fought, too, against boredom and sterility: he studied English and read whatever he could get his hands on.
The penalty he paid for his tenacity and courage was the certain knowledge that he was too dangerous to be allowed out for long periods. But even in his brief interludes at large (when he was followed night and day) he continued his work, setting up, with the help of foreign correspondents, an invaluable communications network with the West, and conveying crucial information about the abuse of psychiatry.
Mounting pressure from the West led to Bukovskys dramatic expulsion to Switzerland in December 1976, accompanied by his mother, sister and nephew. He was exchanged for the Chilean communist leader Luis Corvalan. He has now resumed his interrupted biology studies at Kings College, Cambridge.
Vladimir Bukovsky is a naturally gifted writer who can discover comedy even in the depths of suffering. His progress from youthful innocence to embittered opposition lends a heroic quality to his story and gives a unique picture of how a resourceful and highly intelligent man can come to terms with year after year of imprisonment. It is a major document in the literature of human rights.
Very Good in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper unevenly sunned at the spine. Edges of the text block lightly spotted. Previous owners’ name to the first blank.
Green boards with Gilt titling to the Spine. 352 pages. Index. 9½” x 6¼”.
Of course, if you don’t like this one, may I tempt you with something from my Biography catalogue?