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The men…responsible for deciding how state funds would be invested were selected for their political reliability, not for their technical knowledge. They reported to men who were even less qualified to make technical decisions, who ultimately reported to the Central Committee, which with a few exceptions was composed of poorly educated political operatives. At the same time, failure was harshly punished…In this environment, there was very little incentive to innovate. Managers who weren’t competent to judge between competing proposals adopted a simple stratagem: invest only in technologies that had already been proven in the West, particularly in the United States.br> Ultimately, when Khrushchev was purged from power, Berg and Staros lost their patron, their status, budget and position. Staros died in 1979 bitter and defeated, half regretting he had allowed Berg to convince him to become a spy. A proposal to revolutionize the production of semiconductors — Berg called it the “minifab” — was frustrated time and again until glasnost came and Barr was given funding to complete his work and showcase the process for, ironically, American investors.
With glasnost came the opportunity to return to America and, not unpredictably, some fame as a recently discovered espionage agent associated with Rosenberg. Barr was not immune to the celebrity virus and tried to play it for what it was worth, even hoping to use an interview on ABC’s Nightline to market his semiconductor process. How American.
This is Steve Usdin’s first book and he tells this emotionally and historically complex tale well. Usdin writes crisply and engagingly. And it is refreshing to read a historical biography devoid of cattiness and judgment. Rather, he allows Barr’s and Sarant’s actions to speak for them.
In many respects, Barr is the inverse image of Jay Gatsby the man who moved East from Minnesota, reinvented himself and built a dream world to win a girl. Much like Jay Gatsby, Joel Barr “sprang from his Platonic conception of himself.” And as Usdin notes, though Barr had to come to grips with his past actions when he returned to America, “the future had always been more attractive for Berg than the past. ” So too with Gatsby who “believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us.” Barr moved East as well and then home again. He was loyal to communism but ultimately it was his American capacity for invention and reinventing oneself that allowed him to live out his dreams and his desires.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?