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Maurice Hindus (Mother Russia, etc.) is the humanizer of the Soviet encounter. His capacity to make a friend of every one he meets, his boundless curiosity and concern for the people, particularly the ""little"" people caught up in the gears of a great society, give a certain and special quality to all that he writes. Here he returns to Russia half a century after the Revolution, records his discoveries on three separate journeys (1962, 1963, 1965) in a manner that disregards human differences and concentrates on the commonplaces of life. He meets people in Leningrad and Moscow, the Ukraine, in village and kolhoz. He talks to taxi drivers about the ""poetry epidemic,"" to a young husband who complains that his wife cares more for meetings than for him, to women street cleaners who bemoan their lot. He complains about the cost of cocoa, over the fact that honey is hard to find, moves to more serious lacunae: the paucity and consequent rise in cost of meat and butter which brought terror to Rostov-on-the-Don when workers at a combine factory struck. What do the Russians do? They read (War and Peace, Quiet Flows the Don), they rejoice when they can find a room of their own, they work and study and stand in food queues that waste their time and energy. They think: ""We are as sovereign as a bird in a cage;"" they worship (whether entrapped Jew or indestructible Baptist) despite ""the boring crusade"" to kill God. They want the good things of life, have rediscovered the pleasures of sex and the countryside. In fact, they are thoroughly human, and Mr. Hindus concludes that ""the concept of 'the new man,' who supposedly is marching toward Communism, is as much a fiction as the now discarded Lysenkoism with its theory of the transmission of acquired characteristics."" His commentary has an everyday reality.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1966
Publisher: Doubleday