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13 November 2018

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The Soviet Image

by Peter Radetsky

Framing a century of Russian history in photos, it is a gorgeous coffee table album, cross pollinated with history. The rarer photos of the 1930s and forward are the most fascinating – of a pogrom’s aftermath in Kishinev, of workers in a tavern in 1900, of 21-yearold Ivan Sikorsky next to his second failed attempt at a helicopter. But the later color shots – particularly of Brezhnev and his retinue – are also revealing.

Each of the chronological periods is introduced by a concise yet readable essay, to provide context and background for the photos to come. Leafing through the pages (and recognizing many photos from the pages of Russian Life over the last 15 years) one is struck by how much of the century was black and white, how little of it in color. But throughout, the telling details, the frozen expressions, the candid moments, create a portrait of Soviet life that is as vivid as if it had all been shot in color.

— Paul E. Richardson

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Reviewed in Russian Life: Nov/Dec 2007