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Short Reviews

Russian Literature Triquarterly

edited by Carl R. Proffer, edited by Ellendea Proffer
Ardis Publishers, $15.00 yearly (Fall, Winter, and Spring)

War Resisters Canada

by Kenneth Fred Emerick
Knox, Pennsylvania Free Press, $4.95

The Superlawyers

by Joseph C. Goulden
Weybright and Talley, 408 pp., $8.95

The first two numbers of this new journal contain important unpublished material: poems by Iosif Brodsky (in Russian), a play by Bulgakov (in English), an article on Mandelstam, written in 1929 but published only now, a moving tribute to Anna Akhmatova in a private letter to her from N. N. Punin, photographs of Mandelstam, Akhmatova, Brodsky, and others. They also contain hitherto untranslated, though previously published, prose by Fedin, Zamyatin, Pasternak; and translations of poems by Mandelstam, Gumilev, Akhmatova, Brodsky, Akhmadulina, and Tsvetaeva, among which, several by George L. Kline and Jamie Fuller of Brodsky and Tsvetaeva are extraordinarily good. In addition, there are translations of notable essays in criticism and a number of original critical pieces, carefully done, conscientiously documented, and one of them at least, on Pasternak, D. L. Plank’s “Readings of My Sister Life,” is brilliant.

Each issue is devoted primarily to a single topic: the first to Acmeism, the second to the Literature of the Twenties, the third, announced for May, is to center on two subjects: Romanticism—Pushkin, Baratynsky, Lermontov, and others—and Nabokov, “We see the journal,” wrote the editors in introducing the first number, “as a ‘post-horse of enlightenment.’ Whether it will be a thoroughbred or a nag remains to be seen.” Clearly, it is off to a good start.

The author systematically interviewed thirty-three—out of maybe 75,000—draft resisters and military deserters now living in Canada. He found few of them religious, but only one an atheist. They tend to read books but not newspapers. Instead of amnesty (“Who wants it?”), twenty-eight of them want permanent Canadian residence. The tone of the book is sometimes patronizing (“a lad of only 19”) and often tendentious; Emerick wants to show that the resisters are not sons of disreputable deviants or themselves “bums, freaks, cowards or sad and hungry cop-outs,” and especially not revolutionaries—those stay in the States. In fact, “the overwhelming majority of resisters, young enough to be my sons, would be welcome in my home as big brother or teacher to my young son.”

The excerpts from the interviews are nevertheless interesting. Some of the reasons given for rejecting the army: “I’m not a joiner”; “Who has a right to judge my motives?”; “It’s an undeclared war.” A young man with a “left-liberal” father: “I got the impression I was a status symbol to him [as a resister].” A Vietnam veteran: “If you kill a woman, and you get her wedding ring, that’s something. I knew guys who had that as their specialty.”

But many of the author’s conclusions, such as “less than half the resisters had any remorse,” seem meaningless. Another interviewer might have gotten more complex responses. A book like this depends on what a reader brings to it, but Emerick’s raw material itself deserves a place among the literature of resistance and conscientious objection.

Superlawyer” sounds like a comic strip character with a cape who leaps over juries. Not at all. Goulden’s Superlawyer is very much a real person, wears a modest costume (conservative suit, white shirt), and usually practices his magic out of public view. Superlawyer’s name is Clark Clifford (also known as Superclark) or Tommy Corcoran (a.k.a. the Cork) or Abe Fortas or George Smathers or Lloyd Cutler or John Mitchell (before he left Mudge Rose for Justice) or Richard Nixon (before he became Supertourist). In short, Superlawyer is one of a handful of powerful Washington/New York six-figure corporation attorneys who serve as an “interface” between big business interests and the federal government.

Goulden, an old hand at muckraking (AT&T’s monopoly, the Tonkin Gulf episode, and philanthropic foundations), has looked into the behind-the-scenes activities of Superlawyer and found numerous cases of conflict-of-interest, wire-pulling, Establishment collusion, and influence-peddling, “Lawyering or softening? Just what is it that Corcoran and his firm do to command their rank in Washington law?… The finding: whatever Corcoran does, it isn’t lawyering.” Contending that the corporate lawyer used to help the client comply with the law but now advises him “how to make laws, and to make the most of them,” Goulden shows how the Superlawyers dominate the federal regulatory agencies, are in cahoots with congressmen to gain legislative favors for their clients, and are constantly violating the public interest if not the public law.

Goulden concludes that Nader-led and inspired pro bono lawyers are beginning “to balance the scales of justice in Washington”—ever since Nader’s successful tussle with Lloyd Cutler over auto safety standards the blue-clip attorneys have been somewhat on the defensive, or at least more cautious. Although this study lacks the theoretical perspective and sweep of, say, Mills’s The Power Elite, it is a fascinating book.

(Notice in this section does not preclude review of these books in later issues.)

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