Uncomfortable, but Invaluable

Urban's is not a happy memoir. The subtitle, My War Within the Cold War, sums up his theme. The new policy involved years of often bitter struggle with both grotesque reactionaries and Western appeasers.

Issue: Winter 1998-1999

George R. Urban, Radio Free Europe and the Pursuit of Democracy: My War Within the Cold War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 322 pp., $35.

When the Venezuelan terrorist "Carlos" (Ilich Ramirez Sanchez) was run to earth in Khartoum four years ago and flown to Paris for trial, the charges against him included the blowing up of the Czechoslovak service of Radio Free Europe (RFE) in Munich in February 1981. Four people were seriously injured. A few months after the bombing, one of RFE's Romanian broadcasters was stabbed twenty-two times in his Munich home. He survived, but earlier in London a Bulgarian broadcaster for RFE had been killed when a "poison umbrella" injected a ricin pellet into his thigh.

Other weapons for intimidating RFE broadcasters and staff included parcel bombs, cancer-inducing radioactive material, and anonymous letters along the lines of: "Oh, Deformed One, if you don't shut your Jewish trap, you will be gripping clay underground. Be careful, viper, we will be cutting out your venomous tongue."

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