Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Book Publishers Warn of Future Boycotts of Book Fairs in Moscow Following Confiscation of Books

September 5, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Representatives of American and international publishing associations attending the Moscow Book fair in Moscow indicated today that they might boycott future book fairs in the Soviet capital unless Soviet authorities pledged not to bar exhibitors and ban books, according to reports reaching here from Moscow.

This warning came at a news conference called by American publishers where they announced that they had lodged a strong protest with Soviet officials following the confiscation of some three dozen books which American publishers had brought to the fair. The books included works by Jewish authors, works dealing with the Holocaust and the Nazi era, and books written by Soviet dissidents.


According to reports from Moscow, some of the confiscated books are: “The Illustrated History

A few books from the Association of Jewish Book Publishers taken by the Soviet authorities for “consideration” are:

“The Holocaust Years: Society on Trial,” edited by Roselle Chartok. Bantam; “To Dance: The Autobiography of Valery Panov” by Volery Panov and George Feifer. Knopf; “The Kids Who Went to Israel: Autobiographical Sketches of Young Immigrants” by Harold Flender. Washington Square Press; “The Jericho Commandment” by James Patterson. Crown; “The Pictorial History of the Jewish People” by Nathan Ausubel. Crown; and “My Country” by Abba Eban. Random House.

Some of the books seized have been returned, it was reported. The Moscow Book Fair, which opened here today, is being attended by 2000 publishers representing some 70 countries.


Meanwhile, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) deplored the cancellation by the Soviet Union of a visa issued to Robert Bernstein, chairman and president of Random House, to attend the book fair. He had been granted a visa Aug. 22 but it was revoked the following day. Bernstein, long an outspoken advocate of human lights, is the publisher of dissident Soviet physicist and writer Andrei Sakharov and others out of favor in Moscow.

Alexander Hoffman, AAP chairman, and Townsend Hoopes, AAP president, issued a statement in which they declared that the revocation of Bernstein’s visa is “wholly incompatible with the spirit of free exchange of ideas which should characterize meetings between and among writers and publishers of different countries and different philosophical persuasions.”

Bernstein, himself, described the Soviet action as “repugnant to us as publishers and Americans, and to all those who deeply believe in the need for detente and the affirmation of human rights.” He said conversations were held with the State Department in an effort to have his visa reinstated and that protests were issued in both Washington and Moscow. The State Department, Bernstein noted was “extremely supportive and helpful.”

Recommended from JTA