''The truth, I was ultimately to learn, is the most dangerous thing. There are no ends to which men of power will not go to put out its eyes.'' This is a theme in the memoir of journalist Harrison E. Salisbury - a message he absorbed only after many hard lessons.
As editor of a campus newspaper in the 1920s, Salisbury was suspended from college because of his muckracking enthusiasm. As a wire service reporter during the depression, he almost lost his job over an accurate but damaging story that angered local business interests.As Moscow correspondent for the New York Times under Stalin's rule, he entered a society where falsehood was universal - and the truth could be fatal.
Salisbury's years in the Soviet Union, which constitute the core of this book , gave him a new perspective on the US. In particular, he became concerned at the ease with which totalitarian methods can be employed in the name of democracy.
For a man who once pounded out news stories at 75 words a minute, Salisbury writes with surprising freshness and sensitivity. He is frank, though not very remorseful, about his overriding ambition and the marital infidelities that marred his personal life. He excels at thumbnail sketches of people who have crossed his path, from Al Capone to Nikita Khrushchev. His memoir compares favorably to that of a colleague - Theodore H. White's ''In Search of History.''