My Recommended
Reading List

Below is a list of the books to date that I've read concerning Soviet and Russian history and culture. The list is not structured in any way, but pretty much a random sampling of books that I've come across in my reading.

One thing I've decided the more I've read, that I'd like to pass along, is my belief that the dates and times in which these books were written in no way make them obsolete or irrelevent to our educations about Soviet and Russian culture. In fact, I'm finding just the opposite to be true. To fully understand and appreciate current situations in the former USSR, it is often quite helpful and even necessary to delve back into some of the older books for insights into the past.

I also readily admit that I have not gotten too deep, yet, into the works of the better known dissident writers, but that will change in the very near future. This list will continue to grow. If you have books that you'd like to suggest please pass along the title, author and date of publication, along with a short description and I'll add them to the list.

With that said and done, here's the list:

  • Glas, New Russian Writing, Various authors, 1991-...

    This series of continually published volumes of new Russian writing was a real find for me. Each volume presents writing based on a different theme. For instance, one volume consists of writing by women, another describes the Jewish experience in Russia. Use the link above for a complete listing of volumes published to date.

  • The Anti-Soviet Soviet Union, Vladimir Voinovich, 1985.

    Voinovich is a former dissident writer tossed out of the Soviet Union with a marvelous sense of humor and truly pin point insights into the daily life of the Soviet people. I highly recommend this one; you'll become an instant fan, and I dare say friend, of Vladimir Voinovich.

  • A Room in Moscow, Sally Belfrage, 1957.

    A simply wonderful and amazing autobiographical piece by a young woman who traveled to Moscow for a student gathering in 1956, and then decided to stay in Moscow to learn more about the Russian people. Not only a very valuable historical record, but also a very warm and heartfelt piece of personal literature.

  • Fat Sasha and the Urban Guerilla, David Bonavia, 1972.

    Bonavia spent several years in Moscow in the late sixties and the first couple of years of the seventies as a journalist, before being expelled for getting too friendly with active dissidents. His account is a true life glimpse into the lives and toils of those who actively spoke out against the Soviet regime, and often paid the price.

  • The New Russians, Hedrick Smith, 1990.

    Fifteen years after the publication of his book 'The Russians', Smith returned to Russia and found the place completely changed almost beyond belief from when he last visited. This is a really good book packed with detailed information on the political transformation of the USSR and its people. A later reprint is updated with an additional chapter about the failed coup in 91.

  • Bear Hunting with the Politburo, A. Craig Copetas, 1991.

    Copetas spent three years in Moscow as a journalist covering the early free marketeers known as 'cooperators'. He then became an advisor to one of the most successful of these early businesses, 'Fact'. Bear Hunting gives a really terrific account of the struggles and obstacles faced by the men and women who were the first to drag Russia into the market system.

  • Trespassers Welcome Here, Karen Karbo, 1989.

    In her debut novel Karbo tells the story of several Soviet emigres to Los Angeles through their own eyes and experiences. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, this is an interesting and warm book, giving personal reflections on the situations faces by strangers in a strange land.

A great resource is the Mining Company's Russian Culture - Literature site.

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