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Shattered Dreams, Broken Promises: The Cost of Coming to America Hardcover – October 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Viner, a writer, editor and producer, has interviewed more than 200 women who immigrated from the former Soviet Union to America to find out, in his somewhat strange questions, "what makes them so unique" and "why so many of them [have] taken unusual sexual paths to accomplish their goals." Twenty-three of their firsthand accounts are included, comprising a sad litany of hardship and exploitation, with an emphasis on the harsh lives they left behind and the difficulty of forging a life in America. One woman, raised in poverty and tricked by an ad promising employment in elite New York City restaurants, was forced into stripping for a living to repay the agency that had deceived her. Not all the stories end tragically: one young Kiev woman fled to America when her husband was killed by the mob. After her Brooklyn roommate absconded with her documents, she became a prostitute but eventually married and adopted two children and runs her own escort service. These often tragic stories are moving, but without reporting on the larger context, as others have done, one has no idea how representative these stories are or what exactly they are intended to prove. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

MICHAEL VINER is the author of three national bestsellers and has edited more than a dozen New York Times best-selling books. A long-time producer in the movie, television and recording industries, he is currently producing two movies for the Hallmark Channel, set for release later this year, and several films to be released in 2009. He has written and produced several Sidney Sheldon miniseries, and his music is featured in the major motion picture The Departed and has sold over 100 million copies, including the Billboard-charting single, “Hip-Hop Is Dead.”
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix Books; 1 edition (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597775371
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597775373
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,312,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By El on December 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What was really strange to me the vast majority of interviewed women came from the bottom of society. To take sexual exploitation path is so typical for many underprivilidged girls coming from many countries including native US residents. Extremely interesting is that they make so much more money than a native born. I had no idea that a prostitute can make $300,000 in just 5 years or something like that. I must be in the wrong business! I am Russian, I am cute at the very least, I have been a resident for 14 years so English is of no issue, and I know when to shut up. However, in my 14 years of being in the US I have never met a Russian girl who was a prostitute or who was making living by giving any other kind of sexual favors.
Most of my friends are typical for mid-class Russians. Some of them came here through a fake marriage, some through a real marriage for love, money, dreams....a lot of them stayed here after their student visas expired...you name it. Like many Russian women I work as an engineer and have a decent salary. I am just curious why such a poor choice for Russian females representation? I'd speculate that the author tried to keep the genre within "beach-read" boundaries; what's better to entertain a bored mind than sex-spiced "real life" stories of Russian cuties? I think Russian immigrants are way more complex than the book outlines. Real-life non-sexual paths of many of them are quite interesting, filled with drama, comedy, and tragedies worth being put in writing. I guess this book covers one-millionth aspect of it. I hope someone would take a more scientific approach for big generalizations the book often claims.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alexander F. Remington on February 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There's a kernel of a good idea behind this book, but it really falls short. Superficially, the translations are frequently awkward and there are a number of typos. The bigger problem is that while there's a thin thread tying the stories together -- what motivates women from the former Soviet Union to come to America? -- the question is never really answered.

The women are very straightforward in describing their problems in wrenching detail, of alcoholism, domestic violence, and rape, but they are much more emotionally opaque when it comes to the emotional effect these traumas had on them. Rather than expose much of their internal monologue, they frequently generalize about what Russian women in general are like, or offer Russian aphorisms. There's a frustrating lack of self-analysis as the women keep themselves at arm's length from the interviewer and the reader. The language itself is very straightforward, likely due to language problems with the interviewer/author and his translators, and so the translated text of the first-person accounts is neither dense nor nuanced. You get the sense that if these women were speaking in their own language to someone they trusted, there would be a lot more to say.

The last point is minor but nagging: all the women are beautiful. We don't know what they look like, as there are no pictures and no names attached to the faces, but they all describe themselves as attractive, and since they all came to America either through sex work or through internet marriage, they clearly all are. There's an unacknowledged but clear selection bias at work, which causes two problems. First, it makes the women's stories less representative of women's experiences as a whole.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Norman Bogner on November 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Although, our country is going through a rocky period, it's paradise for women compared to the new "enlightened" Russia and the former USSR. Innocent girls, students, workers are regularly treated like slaves there: rapes, beatings and abuse are everyday occurences. The police are indifferent to these crimes and always blame the women. Michael Viner has taken us deep inside the female psyche in this moving book, which details the stories of 24 women who want to come to the US to improve their lives. They are prey to scam artists, marriage brokers and madams,who seduce these young women with fraudulent ads. Many of them are forced into jobs as strippers and prostitutes to repay the devious men and agencies who have misled them with the promise of a Green Card and citizenship. Mr. Viner has the women speak in their own voices without pulling punches. This is a must read for American women who will then count their blessings that they live in a country that treats them with respect and dignity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By m morrissey on November 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was really fascinated reading about 14 chapters of this book before I began to wonder whether it wasn't some kind of dark bodice-ripper for the 21st century or something. To begin with I web searched "bitch's exile" both in the Russian transliteration provided and in English, and came up with nothing but this book.

I couldn't shake off the feeling that there was something awfully T.J. LeRoy about this volume. For one thing, all these women seem to speak with the exact same voice. And it doesn't sound terribly Russian, either. And they all have these proverbs at hand, and I dunno...

Call me a skeptic? But frankly besides my feeling that the whole thing might be kinda specious, I kinda got bored with what was beginning to read like an imaginative Kama Sutra of what could possibly happen to a hapless Russian lass in the big bad USA.
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