Letters to Gorbachev: 2life in Russia Through the Postbag of Argumenty/Fakty

Ron McKay, Editor, Boris Yeltsin, Introduction by, Vladislav Starkov, Preface by Penguin Books $10.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7181-3498-3
Argumenty I Fakty is the Soviet Union's largest paper, with a circulation of some 34 million. An independent publication, it receives up to 7000 letters a day, of which this volume is a small selection, a window on glasnost -era Soviet thinking at the street level. There are repeated complaints about shortages of goods, preferential treatment given party officials, bureaucratic insensitivity and incompetence. No single point of view is privileged, and the letters run the gamut from hardline Stalinists (a small minority) to near-monarchists (an even smaller minority). What nearly all of them have in common is dissatisfaction with the Soviet system. The book is an eruption of decades of pent-up anger, finally unleashed by the loosening of censorship. There are lighter moments, such as the writer who suggests selling the Politburo to the U.S. so that America can foist these boobs pk off on the Japanese. However, the only relief from the numbing sameness of the rest of this book comes in the chapter on health and environmental issues, where the agony of human suffering breaks through the griping tone. McKay is a British journalist. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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