AN AMERICAN FAMILY IN MOSCOW by Jerrold; Leona & Others Schecter


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In 1968-70 Schecter worked as Time magazine bureau chief in Moscow. His wife and youngsters were with him and each family member has recorded the experience. The five children attended Soviet schools and they all lived in a new apartment complex for foreigners, making as many Russian friends and contacts as possible. The Schecter family view boils down to a familiar stress on consumer deprivation, demoralized youth, authoritarian education, endemic mistrust and xenophobia, not to mention racism, with a special underlining of the malaise among citizens of Jewish origin. All this is filtered through day-to-clay exploration and vexation, which are as engrossing as milk curds and bathrooms can be. The children seem somewhat bratty and anti-intellectual; their mother gets abrasive with her tales of how Maxim Litvinov's widow struck up a grand friendship at once and her repeated outrage that the Soviets still dare to invoke their war losses as a reason for economic deficiencies. Most off-putting is the Schecters' collective pretense that they are just folks on assignment, despite the manifest public importance of Jerrold's post. Drawn by a desire ""to understand Communist power"" as well as their own parents' Russian-Jewish origins, Schecter pere and mere came away with memories of dissident Russian friends, a depleted stock of self-deprecating ironies, smug jabs at the Soviets. Still this is a book that will find a broad readership if only because it fulfills liberal expectations.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1975
Publisher: Little, Brown