Acquired Traits

Raisa Berg, Author, Raissa Berg, Author Viking Books $22.95 (496p) ISBN 978-0-670-80254-8
Under Stalin, the science of genetics in the Soviet Union degenerated into a farce. ``Acquired traits are inherited,'' ``collective labor will create collective man,'' ``studying chromosomes is unnecessary''so ran the slogans of the party line. Berg's garrulous, energetic memoir unleashes a Swiftian satire on the crass manipulation of scientists, from the quack experiments of agronomist Trofim Lysenko in the 1950s through the '70s. Born in St. Petersburg in 1913, the author left Russia in 1974 and is a professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She writes about her unreciprocated love for her strict stepmother, attending Leningrad University, life in a tiny communal apartment, raising two daughters after her husband left her. Colleagues branded her a lackey of the West, but in this feisty autobiography Berg has the last word as she chronicles her moral resistance to the thought control of a bureaucracy that decimated the ranks of Soviet scientists. (August)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-14-013445-2
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