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October 19, 1986|Harry Trimborn

ANATOLY AND AVITAL SHCHARANSKY: THE JOURNEY HOME by The Jerusalem Post (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: $15.95; 263 pp., illustrated). This account of the couple who came to personify the struggle of thousands of Jews seeking to emigrate from the Soviet Union was written by a team of 10 journalists of Israel's English-language newspaper. The project was launched upon Shcharansky's release to the West last Feb. 11 after he had served nine years of a 13-year sentence in Soviet prisons on a trumped-up spy charge.

The preface acknowledges the assistance of many others in its preparation. But the list does not include two key sources who were close at hand--Shcharansky and his devoted wife, Avital, who had pounded on doors throughout the West to publicize her husband's plight and secure support for his release. The apparent absence of their direct involvement--due perhaps to Shcharansky's commitment to a literary agency--makes this book, in effect, a preliminary draft for the definitive work still to reach print. Also there is a lack of attribution for much of the narrative.

Still, the authors have pieced together a compelling, smoothly written account that covers Shcharansky's well-known struggle against Soviet oppression, both as an activist for Jewish emigration and as a founder of the dissident Helsinki Watch Group set up to monitor Soviet compliance with the human rights provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords.

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