History Real and Imagined: Russians at War in Art and Life from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995

JPRS Aug 2017 4 sm.pngAmong the many interesting aspects of Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, is the inclusion of full-length novels. This month we have such two works by Vasiliy Ardamatskiy, similar in scope and subject matter to Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago.

JPRS Aug 2017 8 sm c2.pngAlongside Ardamatskiy’s fictional accounts of revolutionary Russia we pair historical nonfiction relating to Soviet naval warfare and military communications during World War II. Finally, we’ll add excerpts from a 1972 monograph that requires little interpretation, on the all-too-real technology of ballistic missile launch and control systems.


Vozmezdie [Retribution], by Vasiliy Ardamatskiy; Moscow, Molodaya Gvardiya 1968

Born in 1911, Ardamatskiy was a child of the Russian Revolution who wrote adventure fiction and who was reputed to be linked to the KGB. His career as a radio journalist brought him close to the battle lines during World War II, especially during the Siege of Leningrad.

In Retribution he gives compelling characterizations of the real-life terrorist Boris Savinkov, and of Felix Dzerzhinskiy, head of the feared Cheka, precursor to the KGB. Among other honors, the KGB Prize of the USSR in the field of literature and art was awarded to Ardamatskiy.

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Dve Dorogi [The Two Roads], by Vasiliy Ardamatskiy

Neva [Nova], Leningrad, December 1972-March 1973

Book I, Road of Dishonor, and Book II, Road of Honor

The “Road of Honor” here is followed by Bulgarian communist general Vladimir Zaimov. The “Road of Dishonor” was taken by the Czarist Russian counter-revolutionary Sergey Druzhilovskiy, a forger of documents and, below, a feigner of illness during World War II.

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Is that a U.S. dollar bill on the cover illustration below, with a drop of blood issuing from the tip of a poison pen?

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Excerpts from Istoriya Voyenno-Morskogo Iskusstva [A History of the Art of Naval Warfare]; Moscow, Military Publishing House, 1969

The “Art” of the title here as readily applies to Marxist socio-political development as to military strategy, since the author is at pains to link Soviet victory at sea with the progression of feudalism to capitalism and socialism:

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This analogy lends insight into interdisciplinary Soviet perspectives on naval power, and recalls the classical Greek linkage of political and military structures as delineated by Sparta and Athens during the Peloponnesian War.


Svyaziv Velikoy Otechestvennoy Voyne [Communications in the Great Patriotic War] by Marshal of Signal Troops I.T. Peresypkin; Moscow, Izdatelstvo Nauka, 1973

This report is more practical than ideological as shown by the diagram below  from the Battle of Berlin in 1945. There’s still quite a lot of adventure in Peresypkin's narrative, however, as he describes the lengths to which the signal troops went to secure their communications and end the war. The Reichstag is at the lower right corner of the map.

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Nazemnoye Oborudovaniye Raket [Missile Ground Equipment] by V.G. Malikov, S.F. Komisarik, and A.M. Korotkov; Moscow, Order of Labor Red Banner Military Publishing House of the USSR Ministry of Defense, 1971

This monograph includes everything about preparing and firing ballistic missiles except the designation of specific targets and launch times. It’s frighteningly easy to imagine that a similar manual is being circulated in present-day North Korea.

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