Victor Israelyan was a senior ambassador in the Soviet Foreign Ministry when the armies of Egypt and Syria invaded Israeli-occupied territory on October 6, 1973. Critical to the outcome of this conflict were the Soviet Union and the United States, whose diplomatic maneuverings behind the scenes eventually ended what came to be known as the Yom Kippur War. During the crisis, however, tensions between the superpowers nearly escalated into nuclear war. Israelyan is the first Soviet official to give us a firsthand account of what actually happened inside the Kremlin during these three important weeks in 1973.
Israelyan's account is a fascinating mixture of memoir, anecdotes, and historical reporting. As a member of Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko's staff, he was assigned to a four-man task force that attended the many Politburo meetings held during the war. The job of this task force was to take notes and prepare drafts of letters and other documents for the Politburo. In remarkable detail, made possible by his sharp memory and the notes and documents he saved, Israelyan chronicles the day-by-day activities of Kremlin leaders as they confronted the crisis. For the first time we can see how the cumbersome Soviet policy-making mechanism, headed by the Politburo, functioned in a tense international situation. We see how the actions of Henry Kissinger, Anwar Sadat, Hafiz al-Assad, and other participants in the crisis were interpreted in Moscow. From his own experience Israelyan gives us intimate portraits of top Soviet officials including Brezhnev, Gromyko, and Andropov. His access to important documents--including letters from Richard Nixon to Leonid Brezhnev, never officially released in the U.S.--provide a much-needed corrective to assertions made by Kissinger, Nixon, and Sadat about the war.
Supplemented by rare photographs and interviews with other Soviet officials, Inside the Kremlin During the Yom Kippur War is more than a record of the past. Israelyan offers a unique vantage point on the continuing Middle East conflict, and his candid assessment of the mindset of Russian leaders is instructive for understanding how the present leadership of Russia faces its new role in the post-Cold War world.
Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
Number of pages: 248
Weight: 426 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
"Not since Leon Trotsky's writings in the 1930s has a witness to the foreign policy-making decision process of the Communist Party's top leadership provided us with so substantive a work."
--Alvin Z. Rubinstein, from the Foreword
." . . [A]n extraordinary and unprecedented memoir from a Soviet observer, Ambassador Victor Israelyan . . . . Writing from his notes, recollections, and interviews with other diplomats and policy makers, Israelyan has provided the first authoritative account of policy deliberations among Politburo members on any issue and, until Kremlin archives are opened, the most complete description of Politburo politics during a crisis."
--Middle East Journal
"A fascinating eye-witness account . . . . Israelyan captures the atmosphere and mood of the Kremlin particularly well. From the hushed corridors and rooms, where officials lowered their voices to whispers, the figure of the General Secretary, Leonid Brezhnev, emerges as the clearly dominant and powerful personality who, at this time, still possessed considerable charisma, dynamism and quickness of mind. . . . [P]robably the most interesting, detailed and informative account of Soviet foreign policy decision-making to have emerged since the disintegration of the Soviet Union."
"For more than 20 years, scholars and pundits have been writing about the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war with one enormous handicap: the missing piece of the puzzle was what was going on in Moscow during a crisis that brought the world to the brink of confrontation and set the stage for the unraveling of d tente. Now a Kremlin insider has written the book that shines light on precisely this hitherto mysterious topic-and what a story it is! Almost all the assumptions about Soviet policy made by leading diplomats and scholars--American, Israeli, and Arab--seem to have been wrong. . . . One wishes other Soviet diplomats of Israelyan's caliber would write honest memoirs of this sort on the other great crises of the Cold War. But for now, his stands alone as a model to be emulated."
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