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It All Started with Gogol: Scenes from Life in Russia: Unusual Experiences in the Soviet Union

Ratings:
300 pages4 hours

Summary

During the 70 years of the Soviet era leaders created one of the most rigidly controlled societies in history. Their objective was to mold citizens into docile conformists and devoted servants of the State. As an antidote to our personal freedoms they conditioned their citizens to distrust all foreigners since their goal was, by definition, to undermine Soviet power. An unrelenting propaganda assault glorified the virtues of their system and reinforced hostility toward any outside entity.
The governing bureaucracy appeared monolithic but was actually extremely vulnerable. The system itself was defective; unwittingly it motivated individuals to bypass the strict application of the law and discover other techniques of coping. Russians exhibited a boundless creativity in circumventing regulations. Their deliverance lay in mastering a very inventive, humorous and witty approach to an existence that was otherwise grim beyond description.
Russia is an endlessly fascinating land, unexpected and unpredictable, producing delight as well as despair. It consists of humane and warm-hearted people oppressed by endless years of a stultifying bureaucracy. But given the opportunity basic humanity would peek through the bureaucratic facade and manifest itself in ways sometimes benevolent, or humorous, or compassionate, but always endearing. The present review summarizes a number of adventures and experiences that personify these traits.

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