Breaking Free: A Memoir of Love and Revolution

Susan Eisenhower, Author
Susan Eisenhower, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $23 (0p) ISBN 978-0-374-26246-4
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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Eisenhower, a step-grandmother and the twice divorced mother of three daughters, is not being fanciful when she writes of her identification with Romeo and Juliet. In her case, the antagonistic forces were the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., either of which might have proscribed her marriage to Soviet physicist Roald Sagdeev. In a memoir written against the chaotic background of Gorbachev's perestroika, which she makes immediate and vivid, Eisenhower recreates the growing love between herself and Sagdeev, whom she met in 1987 at a U.S.-U.S.S.R. forum in New York. Before they married in 1990, the couple rendezvoused in Russia, the U.S. and various European countries at foundation and political meetings at which the author, the granddaughter of the 34th president of the U.S. and president of the Eisenhower Institute, is often a guest. The couple maintained a public professional decorum while meeting clandestinely for intimacy. If Eisenhower writes with surprising emotion of the upheavals in today's Russia, her passion is perhaps a reflection of her experiences in conducting her affair with Sagdeev and of her concerns for the Russians who became like family to her. She conveys the personal and the political with equal intensity in these pages. Of the couple's blood relatives we are given only glimpses, but they delightfully relax the book's fervor: At their awkward introduction, the author's father and her husband-to-be end up singing Russian folk songs as they drive the back roads of Pennsylvania; when the author first meets her aged father-in-law, a Tatar and a devout Communist, he whoops with pleasure at the fact that when he dies he can look up his new kin, President Eisenhower. (June)
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