Russians, The  by Headrick Smith w dust jacket 527 pages

Russians, The by Headrick Smith w dust jacket 527 pages

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Russians, The by Headrick Smith w dust jacket 527 pages
The Russians by Headrick Smith with dust jacket Copyright 1976  527 pages  Indexed
For all the efforts to understand it, Soviet life has remained to most of us a system of totalitarian robots or, since detente, people just like us. These cliches are shattered in this superb new portrait of The Russians.
This is not the synthetic Russia of the Kremlinologists, but Russia face-to-face, the texture of life as Russians live it. Few reporters have had the stamina and the ingenuity to penetrate the Soviets' natural xenophobia and to see the Russians as they see themselves. Hedrick Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for doing just that. For three years, 1971-1974, as Moscow Bureau Chief for The New York Times, he listened and probed and painstakingly pieced together an amazing jigsaw puzzle of facts, manners, and anecdotes that present a Russia that the West has never perceived before.
With obvious affection for Russians as people and an eye for what really moves and motivates them, Smith takes us into the system of hidden privileges and the dacha colonies of the elite, into secret rock concerts with the young, into Russian schoolrooms with his own children, into shopping queues with women who line up without even knowing what is on sale, into bathhouses where tattooed workmen relax and gossip, into the factories where, despite the Plan, work is astonishingly chaotic, into libraries and news services where information is rationed according to the rank of the readers, into the world of artists and writers whose urge to rebel is compromised by lucrative official rewards, and into the minds of Communist apparatchiki who tell jokes about Brezhnev and Lenin. He pauses for vivid encounters with memorable personalities like Sakharov, Solzhenitsyn, the Pasternaks, and Nadezhda Mandelshtam.
The Russians emerge in this new light as a richly paradoxical people driven by contradictory energies that are as enduring as Russia itself: latent anarchy poised against a preoccupation with control, a sentimental warmth behind an almost brutal coldness in public, a brooding sense of national inferiority beneath a compulsion for extravagant claims, an egalitarian idealism undercut by an obsession with the order and prerequisites of status, a general acquiescence to the system and an inbred instinct to beat it.
The Russians teems with engrossing and startling detail. Hedrick Smith's conclusions will shock the complacencies of detente. This is the indispensable book on Russia and the Russians, and will be for years to come.

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