The author of the powerful if blunt Hillbilly Women (1973) set out to gather true stories of US and Soviet workers--the...


FRUITS OF OUR LABOR: U.S. and Soviet Workers Talk About Making a Living

The author of the powerful if blunt Hillbilly Women (1973) set out to gather true stories of US and Soviet workers--the latter, under the auspices of the U.S.S.R.U.S.A. Friendship League and Novosti Books. From the 28 interviews, and even more from Kahn's informative introductions, we learn a good deal about job situations and modes of living; but even though some of the occupations were matched, little of the material has any comparative value. (And since the Russian subjects were hand-picked, their testimony must be regarded with some skepticism.) Reindeer herders Igor Pogodaev, a Yakut native working on a state farm in Siberia, and Inupiat Eskimo Johnson Stalker, who works for the Northwest Alaska Regional Corporation, have much to impart about the curious business of reindeer-herding. Working conditions appear to be about equally dangerous for textile workers Carrie Bingham of Dahlonega, Georgia, and Karomet Jakubaeva, a Moslem woman who lives and works in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, center of the Soviet cotton industry. How the Denver Yellow Cab Co. was purchased by the cabbies union is told by drivers Willie Perry, Ed Cassidy, and Tom Hanlon: ""We're smart enough to buy the company, now let's see if we're smart enough to run it."" It has, of course, no Soviet counterpart. Kahn also spoke with Soviet immigrants Tamara and Ivan (both pseudonyms), neither of whom was a political dissident--and one of whom would return home given the chance. WW II death and starvation is still fresh in the memories of Soviet workers; a desire to prevent another, final war is voiced by workers in both nations. There is indeed much goodwill evinced--but little fresh or solid evidence on which to base any conclusions.

Pub Date: June 2, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1982