A Childhood in Prison


by Pyotr Yakir. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, $5.95. The author’s father, an army commander, was shot on false charges in 1937, one of the many victims of Stalin’s purge of what he imagined were traitors. The son was locked up as a “socially dangerous element” and spent five angry years in various prisons. His account of these places is predictably horrifying. It is also varied, for each prison had its own character and most of them permitted, at times, a considerable and even comic freedom of action inside the walls. Mr. Yakir picked up, and now passes along, some notable behind-the-scenes information about the whole period. Possibly as a result of this book, he is, on the latest information, once more under arrest.