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Blum, William. West-Bloc dissident: a Cold War memoir.

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Something about William Blum's autobiography, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, compels me to flip through the pages even after reading it cover to cover. Perhaps it's because I lived through much of the history that he's reporting. Or maybe it's the recent events in Iraq (as I write this review, the US has routed the Iraqi army and Saddam Hussein's regime has fallen), since the history of CIA and military intervention in foreign governments seems eerily to foreshadow our current foreign policy in the Middle East. Or possibly it's just the fact that Blum's adherence to radical politics is similar to my own dogged persistence in supporting liberal (and radical) causes in the face of an increasingly conservative and nationalistic political climate in America.

Blum was a computer nerd who worked for IBM and the Department of State when he finally realized, among other things, that the government was not being truthful about our involvement in the Vietnam War. For at least two years he straddled two worlds--one conservative and hawkish, the other radical and anti-war. Finally, unable to reconcile his anti-war political stance with State Department policy, Blum quit his job (with the government's blessing) and became a full time radical and a part-time writer. Even if you don't admire his politics, you have to respect Blum's commitment to his cause. He either met or knew intimately all of the big names in radical politics during the Vietnam era (all of whom eventually abandoned radical politics for capitalism). He took down the license plate numbers of cars entering the CIA compound in Langley, looked up the owner's names, and then published them in The Quicksilver Times. He helped Willi Brandt hide guns, and he punched an overly aggressive policeman in the face during a Vietnam War protest rally. In...