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My life in Stalinist Russia : an American woman looks back
Mary M. Leder
Adult Nonfiction DK268.L4 A3 2001

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In the depths of the Depression, Leder's parents, socialist, Russian-born Jewish immigrants, decided to take their family from the U.S. to the Soviet Union to help colonize a proposed Jewish homeland in Birobidzhan. Once arrived in a rural village in the Soviet Far East in 1931, Mary, a 15-year-old who shared her parents' politics, was appalled at the primitive living conditions and insisted on going to Moscow, where she began working at a factory with the help of her step-uncle. When her disillusioned parents returned to the U.S. two years later, Mary was unable to go with them: she had become a Soviet citizen because she had needed an internal passport to keep her job. In this engrossing memoir, Leder (Sonia's Daughters) recounts the 34 years she lived in the U.S.S.R., working at a motor factory, then as proofreader, editor and translator at the Foreign Workers' Publishing House. While attending the University of Moscow, she was recruited into a secret spy school, which folded during the Great Purge Trials. She married, had a child who died during the evacuation of Moscow during WWII and was constantly under surveillance as a foreigner. Leder has a marvelous memory for the details of everyday life, from living arrangements and survival during the terror to discussions of the law forbidding abortion in 1936 and the marriage "reform" law reintroducing illegitimacy in 1944, as well as for the many friends she made. She was particularly aware of the growing anti-Semitism after WWII, and that, coupled with her husband's death in the late 1950s, prompted her strenuous efforts to return to the U.S. in the 1960s. This plainly written account will particularly appeal t0 readers with a general interest in women's memoirs, Russian culture and history, and leftist politics. 8-page photo insert. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


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