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My Life in Stalinist Russia: An American Woman Looks Back Paperback – September 13, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (September 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253214424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253214423
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,008,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the depths of the Depression, Leder's parents, socialist, Russian-born Jewish immigrants, decided to take their family from the U.S. to the Soviet Union to help colonize a proposed Jewish homeland in Birobidzhan. Once arrived in a rural village in the Soviet Far East in 1931, Mary, a 15-year-old who shared her parents' politics, was appalled at the primitive living conditions and insisted on going to Moscow, where she began working at a factory with the help of her step-uncle. When her disillusioned parents returned to the U.S. two years later, Mary was unable to go with them: she had become a Soviet citizen because she had needed an internal passport to keep her job. In this engrossing memoir, Leder (Sonia's Daughters) recounts the 34 years she lived in the U.S.S.R., working at a motor factory, then as proofreader, editor and translator at the Foreign Workers' Publishing House. While attending the University of Moscow, she was recruited into a secret spy school, which folded during the Great Purge Trials. She married, had a child who died during the evacuation of Moscow during WWII and was constantly under surveillance as a foreigner. Leder has a marvelous memory for the details of everyday life, from living arrangements and survival during the terror to discussions of the law forbidding abortion in 1936 and the marriage "reform" law reintroducing illegitimacy in 1944, as well as for the many friends she made. She was particularly aware of the growing anti-Semitism after WWII, and that, coupled with her husband's death in the late 1950s, prompted her strenuous efforts to return to the U.S. in the 1960s. This plainly written account will particularly appeal t0 readers with a general interest in women's memoirs, Russian culture and history, and leftist politics. 8-page photo insert.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

Review

"Mary Mackler Leder was by no means a significant figure in Stalinist Russia, but readers will find that she writes an arresting observer's account of life in Russia over more than two decades. Sovietologists of the Stalinist era will find interesting anecdotes about Soviet life that confirm, revise, and in some cases authenticate the constructed sociology of the time. One example that constantly reappears is Leder's insistence on stating that she is an American, while the authorities both high and low, all across the Soviet Union, simply classify her as Jewish, with all the usual and stereotypical ramifications of that view. Two particular periods of the account are noteworthy—those about the purges in the 1930s and the war years, during which time her baby daughter died. Perhaps most remarkable is Leder's ability to recall her past with exquisite detail and precision so many years beyond the events. Upper-division undergraduates and above." —C. W. Haury, Piedmont Virginia Community College, Choice, January 2002


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 8, 2001
Format: Library Binding
Although I have read a number of books on the Soviet Union, much to my surprise, I found myself totally absorbed by Mary Leder's odyssey. Starting with her travels across the US, and thence to Birobidzhan (Siberia), later asked to spy and, of course, spied upon, I believe Ms. Leder spins an eloquent and gripping tale. From Mary the dedicated communist to Mary the disenchanted one, from Mary the factory worker to Mary the editor-translator, she paints a totally honest and courageous picture of herself and her travails and those of so many of her fellow citizens. I recommend this book highly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roman Dubov on April 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
A great account of how people lived in the Soviet Union during Stalin's rule. The advantage of this book is that it gives you the facts in such a way that it is up to you to decide whether or not the author is right in her conclusions. I strongly recommend this book for both academic and private reading for I believe it is one of the most unique books ever written about the lifes of regular Soviet citizens.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. ravasizadeh on July 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
Mary is taking you to the Stalin era... in imagination I lived her life while reading the book..When I went to Moscow it felt as if I have already been there.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Zoltan Newberry on August 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found Mary's book hard to put down, and not because I too am Jewish and my Mother's name is Mary.

I really hope some of my progressive Jewish friends read it. It reads so well and is a very deep look into the sickness of the Russian soul and the dreary brutality and horrible corruption which accompanies all collectivism and redistribution.

Please read this before you vote for another Democrat.
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Format: Library Binding
Beautifully written, very sad, but very realistic book about diabolistic times in Russia which still some people think were good if not for people but for an idea.
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