Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ernest Lefever's five best Cold War classics

Ernest Lefever, author of "The Irony of Virtue: Ethics and American Power" (1998) and America's Imperial Burden (1999), named a five best list of "Cold War classics for an age of a resurgent Russia" for Opinion Journal.

The only novel on his list:
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (Macmillan, 1941).

Born into a learned Jewish family in Budapest, Arthur Koestler (1905-83) was educated in pre-Nazi Germany. He became a Communist, served as a journalist in the Spanish Civil War and later visited the Soviet Union -- experiences that led him to conclude that both fascism and Marxism were evil political religions. Fluent in five languages, he wrote the novel "Darkness at Noon," one of the 20th century's most stirring anticommunist works, in English. He said that his characters in "Darkness at Noon" were fictitious but that "their actions are real," a composite of Stalin's "so-called Moscow Trials" and its victims, several of whom he knew personally. This intimacy with real victims enabled Koestler to make vivid the torture, brainwashing and forced confessions of uncommitted crimes. With consummate skill he underscored the vital moral issues of the Cold War, indeed of the human drama.
Read about the book that topped Lefever's list.

--Marshal Zeringue