Friday June 27, 2014
It is no secret that Boris Pasternak’s 1957 novel Dr. Zhivago influenced RPI Chairman and Founder Ron Paul. Indeed, Dr. Zhivago and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged are the only two works of fiction included in the list of 48 books at the end of Paul’s The Revolution: A Manifesto that Paul says influenced him over the years. What has long been a secret, though, is that the United States Central Intelligence Agency played a significant role in helping promote the Pasternak novel.
A peek at the influence Dr. Zhivago had on Paul may be found in ABC News and National Public Radio profiles of Paul from 2011 that report on how Paul reading in his 20s a copy of Dr. Zhivago that his mother had given him put Paul on course reading many other books that helped him develop his understanding of libertarian ideas. This reading led directly to Paul first running for Congress in 1974 and continuing to communicate regarding political topics to this day. As Paul has explained many times, his runs for political office have been motivated largely by a desire to share ideas related to freedom with a larger audience.
Might Paul’s mother not have given him Dr. Zhivago if the CIA had not boosted the book’s popularity? Without reading the book, may Paul not have proceeded in the study that led him to help build support for liberty and nonintervention in the US and abroad?