American Letters from Khrushchev's Russia: Surprising Impressions of Life Behind the Iron Curtain 1961-62

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9781484914267: American Letters from Khrushchev's Russia: Surprising Impressions of Life Behind the Iron Curtain 1961-62

During the Cold War our understanding of life in the Soviet Union was layered with so much ideology and competition that it was difficult to get a feel for the realities of daily existence there. The early 1960s were seen in the West as the height of the ‘Cold War’. In the Soviet Union, however, they were perceived as the ‘Khrushchev Thaw’, a warming trend in Russia’s political atmosphere. Few Americans had access of sufficient duration to paint a nuanced portrait of life there. A major exception was the group of American graduate students who lived in the Soviet Union for substantial periods of time under auspices of the US-USSR Inter-University Exchange. This book describes the experiences of a twenty-five-year-old Stanford medical student who participated in that exchange during 1961-62. In American Letters from Khrushchev’s Russia he documents impressions gathered during a year of research at Moscow State University. From that unprecedented vantage point he shares candid insights on a vast range of topics. He describes a visit to the Berlin Wall the week it went up and the rousing Moscow State University reception of Yuri Gagarin, the cosmonaut who just months earlier had performed the historic first flight of man in space. And he describes shaking hands with Nikita Khrushchev during a Fourth of July celebration at the US Ambassador’s residence in Moscow...an event that proved to be the setting for the first contact between a US Embassy attaché and the Soviet military intelligence officer who tipped off the West to Khrushchev’s plan to install missiles in Cuba. The author describes typical attitudes of Russian scientists, academics, and university students toward such topics as the Stalinist past, the threat of nuclear war, and the likelihood that peoples of the capitalist world could reach communism without bloody revolutions. He describes exasperatingly inefficient services and bureaucratic machinations intermixed with spontaneous acts of genuine compassion and goodwill. And he explores typical attitudes toward more personal aspects of life, such as dating, marriage, parenting, professional life, and religion. American Letters from Khrushchev’s Russia will enrich scholars’ understanding of the interaction of the transient totalitarian Soviet societal model with enduring Russian familial, educational and religious institutions. The informal style will make the book a fascinating read for anyone who wishes to reconstruct the social atmosphere and conventional wisdom of Russians during the early post-Stalinist era. It provides a rare glimpse of life behind the curtain of a society unique in the political history of humankind.

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About the Author:

Douglas M. Bowden, MD is a neuroscientist at the University of Washington, Seattle. A professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a Core Staff Scientist of the Washington National Primate Research Center, his major occupation is development of BrainInfo, a portal to neuroanatomical information on the Web.

Review:

This behind-the-scenes look at daily life in Soviet Russia at the height of Cold War is both illuminating and humorous in its candid, casual approach. A medical student from Stanford University, Douglas Bowden spent the year 1961-62 at Moscow State University. While it is often perceived as uniformly sinister, Bowden’s letters debunk extreme impressions of the Soviet Union. In his correspondence from a half century ago, he provides a clear-eyed evaluation of an environment most Americans would find intolerably dreary. Focusing on the human as opposed to the political—a technique that requires tact as well as maturity—places this work on a sophisticated plane that sets it apart from long-winded tirades on the dangers of communism or the evils of capitalism. The author conveys that he was less than pleased with much of what he discovered, yet his descriptions bring to life fascinating people and their lifestyles. Every page presents a real-life aspect of existence in Russia during the Cold War era. Certain descriptions are priceless: “One good thing you can say about the Soviet Union: it is one place where there’s no danger of Christmas becoming commercialized. In fact, there’s little danger of Christmas period.” Bowden allows the reader to experience vicariously the annoyances typical of a Soviet day: “Where we have a line, they have two or more: one to get to the counter to determine the price, a second at the cash register to pay, a third at the counter to pick up the purchase.” The system was, simply put, inefficient... Now a neuroscientist at the University of Washington, Bowden considers the time he spent in Moscow a privilege, yet he remains on balance a critic of communism. American Letters from Khrushchev’s Russia is an important contribution to Soviet studies; it presents a series of individual impressions as opposed to a broad-based analysis. The informality will intrigue those seeking unusual details that are often deemed unimportant by scholars.

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Book Description Createspace, United States, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.During the Cold War our understanding of life in the Soviet Union was layered with so much ideology and competition that it was difficult to get a feel for the realities of daily existence there. The early 1960s were seen in the West as the height of the Cold War . In the Soviet Union, however, they were perceived as the Khrushchev Thaw , a warming trend in Russia s political atmosphere. Few Americans had access of sufficient duration to paint a nuanced portrait of life there. A major exception was the group of American graduate students who lived in the Soviet Union for substantial periods of time under auspices of the US-USSR Inter-University Exchange. This book describes the experiences of a twenty-five-year-old Stanford medical student who participated in that exchange during 1961-62. In American Letters from Khrushchev s Russia he documents impressions gathered during a year of research at Moscow State University. From that unprecedented vantage point he shares candid insights on a vast range of topics. He describes a visit to the Berlin Wall the week it went up and the rousing Moscow State University reception of Yuri Gagarin, the cosmonaut who just months earlier had performed the historic first flight of man in space. And he describes shaking hands with Nikita Khrushchev during a Fourth of July celebration at the US Ambassador s residence in Moscow.an event that proved to be the setting for the first contact between a US Embassy attache and the Soviet military intelligence officer who tipped off the West to Khrushchev s plan to install missiles in Cuba. The author describes typical attitudes of Russian scientists, academics, and university students toward such topics as the Stalinist past, the threat of nuclear war, and the likelihood that peoples of the capitalist world could reach communism without bloody revolutions. He describes exasperatingly inefficient services and bureaucratic machinations intermixed with spontaneous acts of genuine compassion and goodwill. And he explores typical attitudes toward more personal aspects of life, such as dating, marriage, parenting, professional life, and religion. American Letters from Khrushchev s Russia will enrich scholars understanding of the interaction of the transient totalitarian Soviet societal model with enduring Russian familial, educational and religious institutions. The informal style will make the book a fascinating read for anyone who wishes to reconstruct the social atmosphere and conventional wisdom of Russians during the early post-Stalinist era. It provides a rare glimpse of life behind the curtain of a society unique in the political history of humankind. Bookseller Inventory # APC9781484914267

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Book Description Createspace, United States, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. During the Cold War our understanding of life in the Soviet Union was layered with so much ideology and competition that it was difficult to get a feel for the realities of daily existence there. The early 1960s were seen in the West as the height of the Cold War . In the Soviet Union, however, they were perceived as the Khrushchev Thaw , a warming trend in Russia s political atmosphere. Few Americans had access of sufficient duration to paint a nuanced portrait of life there. A major exception was the group of American graduate students who lived in the Soviet Union for substantial periods of time under auspices of the US-USSR Inter-University Exchange. This book describes the experiences of a twenty-five-year-old Stanford medical student who participated in that exchange during 1961-62. In American Letters from Khrushchev s Russia he documents impressions gathered during a year of research at Moscow State University. From that unprecedented vantage point he shares candid insights on a vast range of topics. He describes a visit to the Berlin Wall the week it went up and the rousing Moscow State University reception of Yuri Gagarin, the cosmonaut who just months earlier had performed the historic first flight of man in space. And he describes shaking hands with Nikita Khrushchev during a Fourth of July celebration at the US Ambassador s residence in Moscow.an event that proved to be the setting for the first contact between a US Embassy attache and the Soviet military intelligence officer who tipped off the West to Khrushchev s plan to install missiles in Cuba. The author describes typical attitudes of Russian scientists, academics, and university students toward such topics as the Stalinist past, the threat of nuclear war, and the likelihood that peoples of the capitalist world could reach communism without bloody revolutions. He describes exasperatingly inefficient services and bureaucratic machinations intermixed with spontaneous acts of genuine compassion and goodwill. And he explores typical attitudes toward more personal aspects of life, such as dating, marriage, parenting, professional life, and religion. American Letters from Khrushchev s Russia will enrich scholars understanding of the interaction of the transient totalitarian Soviet societal model with enduring Russian familial, educational and religious institutions. The informal style will make the book a fascinating read for anyone who wishes to reconstruct the social atmosphere and conventional wisdom of Russians during the early post-Stalinist era. It provides a rare glimpse of life behind the curtain of a society unique in the political history of humankind. Bookseller Inventory # APC9781484914267

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Book Description Createspace. Paperback. Book Condition: New. This item is printed on demand. Paperback. 204 pages. Dimensions: 9.0in. x 6.0in. x 0.5in.During the Cold War our understanding of life in the Soviet Union was layered with so much ideology and competition that it was difficult to get a feel for the realities of daily existence there. The early 1960s were seen in the West as the height of the Cold War. In the Soviet Union, however, they were perceived as the Khrushchev Thaw, a warming trend in Russias political atmosphere. Few Americans had access of sufficient duration to paint a nuanced portrait of life there. A major exception was the group of American graduate students who lived in the Soviet Union for substantial periods of time under auspices of the US-USSR Inter-University Exchange. This book describes the experiences of a twenty-five-year-old Stanford medical student who participated in that exchange during 1961-62. In American Letters from Khrushchevs Russia he documents impressions gathered during a year of research at Moscow State University. From that unprecedented vantage point he shares candid insights on a vast range of topics. He describes a visit to the Berlin Wall the week it went up and the rousing Moscow State University reception of Yuri Gagarin, the cosmonaut who just months earlier had performed the historic first flight of man in space. And he describes shaking hands with Nikita Khrushchev during a Fourth of July celebration at the US Ambassadors residence in Moscowan event that proved to be the setting for the first contact between a US Embassy attach and the Soviet military intelligence officer who tipped off the West to Khrushchevs plan to install missiles in Cuba. The author describes typical attitudes of Russian scientists, academics, and university students toward such topics as the Stalinist past, the threat of nuclear war, and the likelihood that peoples of the capitalist world could reach communism without bloody revolutions. He describes exasperatingly inefficient services and bureaucratic machinations intermixed with spontaneous acts of genuine compassion and goodwill. And he explores typical attitudes toward more personal aspects of life, such as dating, marriage, parenting, professional life, and religion. American Letters from Khrushchevs Russia will enrich scholars understanding of the interaction of the transient totalitarian Soviet societal model with enduring Russian familial, educational and religious institutions. The informal style will make the book a fascinating read for anyone who wishes to reconstruct the social atmosphere and conventional wisdom of Russians during the early post-Stalinist era. It provides a rare glimpse of life behind the curtain of a society unique in the political history of humankind. This item ships from La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9781484914267

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