Bernard Lown’s new book ends shortly after he won the Nobel Peace Prize, but that’s hardly where his story stops. Early next year he’ll start writing a second volume that captures the journey after 1985.

Lown already knows how it’s going to start.

“Nobody has ever reported this. I’ve never told anybody,” he said, seated in front of a massive fireplace at the family’s old lodge in Naples.

So, a sneak peek:

A week after winning the Nobel, Lown sat down for three hours with Mikhail Gorbachev at the Kremlin. At the time, Lown was one of the first Americans to have such a lengthy exchange with the man who would become president of the Soviet Union several years later. He faced a horde of media at a press conference afterward, including 20 American journalists.

Back in his office at work a short time later, Lown said the president of Tufts University poked his head in.

“He says, ‘Bernie, why are you so tired?’ I said, ‘I’m jet lagged.'”

“He said, ‘Where were you?'”

“I said, ‘Moscow.'”

“He said, ‘What were you doing in Moscow?'”

“I said, ‘I saw Gorbachev.'”

(And he said) “Yeah, and I saw the pope yesterday … because if you saw Gorbachev, it would be everywhere.”

News of the historic visit hadn’t made it into the U.S.

Lown said the Tufts president called the New York Times and Boston Globe, prodding them for a follow-up, and both sent correspondents to interview Lown. Only the Globe ever ran a story.


“Don’t ask me for explanations. I ask you.”

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