Fear No Evil

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

A growing awareness of his Jewish heritage prompted Anatoly Shcharanksky to abandon his “servile, soulless life” as a computer specialist, adopt the name Natan Sharansky, and dedicate himself to the cause of Soviet Jewry. When Soviet authorities denied his 1973 request for an exit visa, he intensified his activities in support of refuseniks and dissidents, organizing press conferences and openly meeting with Western correspondents and politicians in an effort to publicize Soviet human-rights violations.

The KGB responded with increased surveillance and harassment of Sharansky, including brief periods of incarceration, before making a final arrest in Moscow on March 15, 1977. Charged with high treason and espionage, Sharansky was eventually sentenced to three years in prison followed by ten years in labor camp. Despite unremitting efforts to bend his will, he steadfastly resisted authority during his nine years of imprisonment, readily undertaking debilitating hunger strikes to secure his own rights as well as those of fellow prisoners. In the meantime, an international movement led by his wife, Avital, ensured that his plight received world attention.

Published approximately two years after his dramatic release in January, 1986, FEAR NO EVIL details Sharansky’s victorious campaign in the name of human dignity. Crucial to his success was a strategy of strict noncooperation which he devised soon after his arrest; this policy enabled him to outfox his interrogators and maintain a sense of freedom throughout his internment. Also sustaining him in his struggles was an unwavering faith in his family and friends that he nurtured during long periods of isolation. The importance of fortifying political protest with spiritual conviction is a prevailing motif in this moving and surprisingly humorous memoir.