Book Reviews : Political Terror in Communist Systems. By ALEXANDER DALLIN and GEORGE W. BRESLAUER. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1970. Pp. xi, 172. $5.95.)

Published date01 December 1970
Date01 December 1970
Subject MatterArticles
chapters. The third chapter is unique because it consists of a working paper pre-
pared by Dexter for a Law and Psychiatry Project in 1959. Dexter also includes a
short chapter prepared by Charles Morrissey dealing with Oral History Interview-
ing and a chapter built around Dean’s and Whyte’s 1958 Human Organization
article, &dquo;How Do You Know If the Informant Is Telling the Truth?&dquo;
Dexter makes his most important contribution in the final chapter where he
begins to develop a &dquo;transactional theory of interviewing.&dquo; His concern is with the
problems of influence and proof associated with interview data; he develops a
four-point program for dealing with these problems.
Despite the theoretical interest raised by Dexter’s work, the comparisons he
attempts to make, and the excellent &dquo;References and Sources&dquo; section he provides,
the book still fails to achieve its basic purpose. That is, it fails to provide the novice
interviewer with sufficient information and insights to adequately plan, conduct,
and evaluate a research project using elite interviews as the prime data source. The
novice soon realizes that Dexter knows how to interview and even more impor-
tantly, knows what to do with his interview information; the problem is he fails
to convey this knowledge to others. There are several reasons for this: Dexter’s
impatience with details (how does one circumvent an innovative and protective
secretary when attempting to arrange an interview?) ; his unwillingness to provide
a checklist of &dquo;dos-an-don’ts&dquo; (other than the instruction to be flexible when con-
sidering interviews) ; and, most importantly, his failure to use interview excerpts to
illustrate his major points and conclusions. Such excerpts would have been invalu-
able in sharpening the reader’s perception of the practical difficulties associated
with elite and specialized interviewing. One last point should be raised. Dexter,
although he does raise the problems of access and...

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