Josef Stalin, Dead Bunnies,
Ducks, and Puppies

Dear Lolita Lark:
Wars are being declared, the countryside is being destroyed, poverty is stalking young and old alike --- and you write a review of a book on Pet Cemeteries. Can anything be so trivial?

Don't get me wrong. I have a smelly dog, a sick cat, a noisy canary, and (in my garden) an army of slugs. If any of the first three die, I will probably be sad. I care for them and they care for me.

But the world is falling apart, sometime soon Iraq will have the atomic bomb, the ozone layer is now history over the north and south poles, once-happy people are going postal, your car is pouring out enough particulate matter to destroy your lungs (and mine, too) --- and RALPH gives us a review of dead bunnies, ducks and puppies. Don't you have any perspective?


Go to the Pet Cemetery Review

Hello Lolita,

I saw a note that Oliver Sacks contributed a small comment on Stalin and the URL given was an address which unfortunately doesn't respond.

Can you advise me it there is such a post in your very special site?

---Samuel Randolph

P.S. The piece you do have on your site regarding the personal war of Stalin and Hitler was very very good. [Editors note: it can be found at]

Dear Friend:

Thanks for yr. note. The Sacks/Stalin quote can be found at

It reads in part,

I am reminded of these parts of recent history by their striking absence from a review of "one hundred significant events of the 20th century in terms of freedom, human rights, and social justice" published in January by the Nation magazine. Events that were significant for "human rights" in both negative and positive senses were included. But the Nation included nothing whatsoever that occurred in this part of the world between the 1917 Russian revolution and the 1989 collapse of the East bloc. Could it be that the Nation does not view the Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Hungarians, Czechoslovaks, and all the other people east of the Elbe River (including the various inhabitants of the Soviet Union itself) as human?

But this is not really the attitude of the writers and editors at this magazine. Rather, they suffer a cognitive defect that was, and apparently still is, commonplace amongst a segment of the Western Left. Whenever history east of the Elbe calls for attention, or ought to, these patients fall into a sort of narcoleptic state in which no data can enter. Or, putting it another way, they automatically assume a pose like that of the proverbial three monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. We must leave it to a qualified physician, like Dr. Oliver Sacks, to illuminate the neurology of this condition.

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