- Hardcover: 435 pages
- Publisher: Acropolis Books Inc; First edition (May 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0874918855
- ISBN-13: 978-0874918854
- Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,103,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Black on Red: My 44 Years Inside the Soviet Union First Edition
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From Library Journal
Robinson, a Jamaican-born Ford Motor toolmaker who sought economic security, engineering training, and an escape from racism, was recruited to work in the Soviet Union in the mid-1930s. Never a Communist, Robinson walked a tightrope while living in the Soviet system, not completely accepting or being accepted by it and recognizing that there was racism, repression, and regimentation around him. Finally, after 24 years of unsuccessful effort, Robinson "escaped" to the United States via Uganda. He provides firsthand accounts of the Stalinist purges, sacrifices of World War II, and economic and political tensions of the Cold War. A rare look at Soviet life. John R. Sillito, Weber State Coll. Lib., Ogden, Ut.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
At multiple points, as I read his story, it reminded me of different Langston Hughes poems, particularly "Dreams" and "Harlem (Dream Deferred)," two of my favorite poems. How ironic, since Langston Hughes was one of a long parade of prominent African-Americans who met Robinson while visiting the Soviet Union, but refused to do anything to help him escape after learning of his plight! Assistance came instead from the most unexpected and unlikely places and people, including Idi Amin.
Ultimately, Robinson's life story is a bittersweet testament to the human spirit and the ability to survive and strive despite repeated disappointment in a seemingly hopeless situation. I'm glad he eventually regained his freedom, found love and companionship late in life, and just before his death, regained something that he dearly wanted back--his US citizenship.
Robert Robinson's story caught my attention because I first visited the Soviet Union as a student, as it morphed into Russia. Although this is clearly meant as a personal autobiography and Robinson attempted to be apolitical his entire life, he provides an insightful, fascinating, honest, boots-on-the-ground perspective on how Russian thinking evolved (in reaction to the end of the Czarist regime) into what we have even today--a dichotomy between what is publicly preached and reality.
Superficially, Russia has changed dramatically since the collapse of communism and the Iron Curtain and is barely recognizable when compared to the ethos of Stalin's workers' "paradise." A century after the People's Revolution by the Bolsheviks, Russia has gleaming new buildings, a fashionable beau monde, an ever increasing number of newly minted billionaires, and a consumer-driven, fashion- and status-conscious middle class. But the reality, particularly in terms of transparency, due process, freedom, and human rights? Little has changed beneath the shiny new 21st-century facade. Thus, Robinson's well-written story and the insights he provides remain as relevant today as they were when published thirty years ago.
The book itself explains not only the good of the Soviet Union, but the bad is presented as-well vigorously. It explains The Soviet Union going from excellence, to a disaster. Robert Robinson was an excellent man, it is admirable of how he managed to survive the brutal conditions of being an average Soviet citizen, which was caused by other (egoistic) citizens, who caused the union to fail.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in the studies of: The Soviet Union, Russian Culture, Russian History, Racism, African Americans, Communism, The relationship with The United States of American & The Soviet Union.