In the seventies and eighties, when you were a hard core leftist, you visited China, Cuba, and the USSR. Can you tell us a little about what stuck with you about those countries?
Well, there are several chapters in the book about this and I would refer readers to that because it's hard to sum up in a paragraph. Also, the national characters come into play, mixing with the hideous communist ideology some once thought idealistic and egalitarian. In one sense I think I was quite lucky to have had as much experience of communist countries as I did, because today I am not easily seduced by the nostalgia some are having for them. There were giant jails and I got to see them from the inside. The sections of Blacklisting Myself in which I describe my visits may be the most useful parts of the book in the long term and are among the chapters I am most proud of. In the case of Red China, I was among the first Westerners allowed in when nearly everyone was still wearing Mao suits. One thing is for sure: my work won't be confused with Lincoln Steffens or John Reed.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009