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Ebook The Russians by Hedrick Smith read! Book Title: The Russians
The author of the book: Hedrick Smith
Loaded: 1693 times
Reader ratings: 6.4
Edition: Ballantine Books
Date of issue: August 12th 1984
ISBN: 0345317467
ISBN 13: 9780345317469
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 14.40 MB
City - Country: No data

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When Hedrick Smith’s book “The Russians” was published in 1976, it gave American readers a taste of what life was like inside the Soviet Union. In “The Russians” Smith paints a vivid portrait of the culture of the Soviet Union under Leonid Brezhnev’s rule. Smith was the Moscow bureau chief for The New York Times from 1971-74, and in 1974 he won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his articles about life in the Soviet Union. I was lucky enough to intern for Hedrick Smith during college in the fall of 2001, as he was finishing up the excellent documentary “Rediscovering Dave Brubeck.” Smith’s most recent book is 2012’s “Who Stole the American Dream?" which is an amazing book.

“The Russians” is a large book, 680 pages in the original paperback edition, and Smith covers just about every imaginable aspect of Soviet society. I learned something new on every page of this book. I can’t accurately summarize all of the different parts of the book in this review, so I’ll focus on the sections that I enjoyed reading the most.

While reading “The Russians” I was very struck by how completely the Soviet government controlled society and everyday life. Smith chronicled how the government censored the information that citizens had access to, which ranged from not informing citizens about wildfires raging only 15-20 miles outside of Moscow, to the heartbreaking story of a man whose daughter died in a plane crash, which he only learned of by going to the airport police-who only told him about the crash on the condition that he keep the news confidential. Because people had so little access through the state-run media to any kind of meaningful information, either about their own country or any others, the government was able to better control the population. This total control over information even extended to seemingly mundane things. For example, while Smith was in Moscow in 1973, the government published the first telephone directory in 15 years. Smith writes, “The problem with this phone book, as with so many desirable items in the Soviet Union, is that supply made not even the barest pretense of satisfying demand. For a city of eight million people, the printers published 50,000 phone books.” (p.472)

I knew that Soviet citizens had very little political freedom, but I didn’t realize how many perks the elite members of the Communist Party enjoyed. Smith deftly exposes one of the many contradictions in Soviet society: that the supposedly classless society was actually just as stratified between the haves and have-nots as the West was, if not more so. Members of the elite were granted access to special stores where they could buy goods not available to other citizens. Elites also had opportunities to travel abroad, which meant that they had access to foreign goods, and work abroad was often paid in special “certificate rubles” which could be used in special stores and had more purchasing power than ordinary rubles. There was also little chance of upward mobility in the Soviet system-if you weren’t a Party member you didn’t have much of a chance of making a decent living.

Although parts of “The Russians” are inevitably dated, Smith’s deep insights into Russia and the Russian character make the book still very relevant today. It’s a shame that it’s out of print, it really deserves to be re-issued and enjoy wider circulation. Hedrick Smith is a great writer, and he crafts many memorable sentences throughout “The Russians.” One of my favorite passages is his spot-on comments about Soviet architecture:

“The newer subdivisions are a forest of massive prefab apartment blocks, numbing in their monotony (and duplicated in cities all across the country), pockmarked and graying with the instant aging that afflicts all Soviet architecture. They are left naked without grass or shrubbery or shutters or flower boxes, like fleets of dowdy ocean liners gone aground on some barren shore and dwarfing their passengers with their inhuman scale.” (p.140)

Smith also uses as an epigraph for one of his chapters a very apt quote, which still does a good job of summing up Russia in the 21st century:

“Russians have gloried in the very thing foreigners criticized them for-blind and boundless devotion to the will of the monarch, even when in his most insane flights he trampled underfoot all the laws of justice and humanity.” Nikolai Karamzin, Russian historian, 1766-1826. (p.320)

If you’re interested in Soviet history, or in Russian culture, Hedrick Smith’s “The Russians” is an excellent book that I would highly recommend.

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Read information about the author

Ebook The Russians read Online! Hedrick Smith is a journalist who has been a reporter and editor for The New York Times, a producer/correspondent for the PBS show Frontline, and author of several books.

Reviews of the The Russians


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I recommend it.


Perfect Design and content!


Why is she out! It must be endless!


An interesting book that says more than you can fit

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