A fast-paced, on-the-scene account of the events that sent shock waves through Soviet society during the first half of 1988. The authors, both of them specialists—he in Russian politics and history, she in literature and culture—and both frequent visitors to the USSR, prove superb guides to the complex but fascinating period of Soviet reform known as the "Moscow Spring." Like Jerrold and Leona Schecter (Back in the USSR, 1988), the Taubmans set up housekeeping in a not-too-comfortable apartment in Moscow. Arriving at a more crucial point in the struggle for glasnost and perestroika, and with a far deeper understanding of the Russian mind, they produce a chronicle that resonates with greater force than that of the Schecters. The central event of the Taubmans' six-month stay was the so-called "Andreyeva affair." On March 13, 1988, the Russian journal Sovetskaya rossiya carried a full-page open letter, signed by Nina Andreyeva, attacking virtually every Gorbachevean reform. The author, a chemistry teacher at the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute, accused the reformers of undermining the Politburo and the Communist Party; and of corrupting socialist Russia and the nation's youth—who, she said, were becoming concerned with such matters as "a multiparty system, freedom of religious propaganda, emigration, the right to wide discussion of sexual problems in the press, the need to decentralize the leadership of culture and the abolition of compulsory military service." Many suspected the piece had been planted by high-level conservative authorities and that it marked the end of the "Moscow Spring." The reform movement ground to a halt; even the press remained silent, waiting for developments. It was almost a month before a strongly anti-Stalinist counterattack, entitled "Principles of Perestroika: Revolutionary Thinking and Action," appeared in Pravda. The reformers, it seemed, had won. With clarity and concision, the authors convey the tensions of the time and delineate the issues involved. Among the other matters, they discuss: the prospects for a Russian feminist movement (poor), anti-Semitism (still virulent), Russian doubts about the permanence of the reforms (widespread). All in all, then, a splendid matching of authors and subject.
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