WASHINGTON, DC -- The Central Intelligence Agency on Friday, April 11th posted to its public website nearly 100 declassified documents that detail the CIA’s role in publishing the first Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago after the book had been banned in the Soviet Union. The 1958 publication of Boris Pasternak’s iconic novel in Russian gave people within the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe the opportunity to read the book for the first time.
The point was to provoke the Russian people into wondering what was wrong with their government that a major book by one of their greatest living authors was available everywhere except in the Soviet Union. That sounds rather a roundabout strategy, but it turned out to be reasonably successful -- it led to Pasternak winning the Nobel Prize for literature and the novel being a worldwide phenomenon, which provided the CIA what it needed to start funneling copies into the Soviet Union on the black market. Indeed, it was almost too successful; so much attention guaranteed that people started tracing back sources and suspected that the CIA had a hand in it. The National Post has an article discussing the matter.