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THERE'S SOMETHING about the very thought of Moscow that makes my skin prickle. It's very little to do with politics; it's a personal and professional thing. All the frustration and bitterness and fascination of the years I spent in that city during the war—and, indeed, earlier— come rushing back at me, as overwhelming as a tidal bore. So that when my editor asked me, at the beginning of 1951, if I would be willing to return there for a short time and collect material on some of the changes that had taken place, I was temporarily knocked off balance. In the end, of course, curiosity won—that, and a sentimental urge to revisit the source of so many vivid and poignant memories. I said I'd go. The main hurdle to be taken was the visa. Since the war the U.S.S.R. had been particularly sticky about letting in people who knew the country, unless they were likely to prove useful spokesmen in the outside world afterwards. Even then, the mesh was fine. However, the Russians are incalculable people, and to my surprise my permit came through in less than a month.
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