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A Russian Journal

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  814 ratings  ·  76 reviews
Just after the iron curtain fell on Eastern Europe John Steinbeck and acclaimed war photographer, Robert Capa ventured into the Soviet Union to report for the New York Herald Tribune. This rare opportunity took the famous travellers not only to Moscow and Stalingrad - now Volgograd - but through the countryside of the Ukraine and the Caucasus. A RUSSIAN JOURNAL is the dist ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 17th 2011 by Penguin Classics (first published 1948)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,058)
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Louise

Nobel Prize winning John Steinbeck and his photographer friend visit Moscow, the Ukraine, (what was then) Stalingrad, and Georgia in 1947. They stick to their mission which is to find out about everyday people: “What do people wear there? What do they serve for dinner? Do they have parties? ….” They did not find out about how they make love or how they die (also in the mission). They are not interested in important people, politics or 5 year plans.

Destruction and the remnants of war are all aro
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Benjamin
Two things:

a) I wish Penguin would've gotten hold of some more hi-res versions of Capa's photos. You can find some of them at Magnum's online collection, and they're much better quality than the images in the book.

b) I wish Steinbeck had published an addendum to this journal after Khrushchev's Secret Speech exposing Stalin's crimes -- I know JS wasn't trying to be political or anything, but I would've been interested to see his interpretation of that time period with retrospective knowledge.

That
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Cams
I was a student of Russian language and literature in the 90s and spent some time in the former Soviet Union. I'm a big fan of John Steinbeck's novels and am surprised that it took me so long to read this.

Steinbeck and his friend, photographer Robert Capa had a project to enter the Soviet Union to document and photograph the lives of the ordinary Russian people. It's basically a slice of life of the time and documents very well not only how Russian, Ukrainian and Georgian people live, but also
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AmberBug *shelfnotes.com*

Overall a good book. Steinbeck and Capa have a great chemistry going on that flows throughout their travels. Robert Capa (the photographer) writes a small chapter of his disgust and annoyance (more of a rant in form of a letter). It sheds some light and humor on the trip and gives a perspective different from Steinbeck. I enjoyed the dynamic between the writer and the photographer and the styles of personality that shine through while traveling in such a drastic difference of culture. They clash
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Stacy
Steinbeck and famous photographer Capa take a surprising trip through cold war Russia in 1948. Steinbeck said he wanted to know what the life of a Russian was like; what they wore, ate, vacationed, worked on, cared about and anything else connected with their day to day existence. I was surprised they were even allowed in at all but Steinbeck happened to get his papers signed by a Russian who enjoyed literature and believed Steinbeck when he said he wasn't political, didn't have any kind of agen ...more
E
Snapshots textual and visual of post-war Stalinist Russia from two beguiling travelers who don't take themselves too seriously. Because Steinbeck openly admits that their observations are superficial and could never be otherwise, and because his affection for people everywhere glows throughout the book, one is never tempted to dispute his account.

Cold War history is so often obsessed with the top-down perspective. This book offered many insights I had always craved during my Soviet history clas
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Jean Poulos
I thought I had read all of John Steinbeck’s works needless to say; I was surprised when I came across this book published in 1948. I had never heard of it.

Steinbeck and Robert Capa, photographer, embarked on a six week Soviet Union tour during the early stages of the Cold War era. They visited Soviet Georgia, Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kiev. The report they created on life under Joseph Stalin’s command, is a highly valuable historical document.
The people portrayed in their literary and photograph
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Maria
Дълго търсих тази книга, по непонятни за мен причини не е преиздавана и съвсем логично и изчерпана по всички познати канали. Исках да я прочета, защото обичам Стайнбек и досега не ме е разочаровал. Т.е. исках да я прочета като колекционер и почитател. Но я намерих точно в период, в който актуалните новини са много сходни с тези от началото на Студената война. И може би съвсем естествено всичко написано ми се стори твърде съвременно. Странно и плашещо е колко малко се е развил светът в някои отно ...more
ქეთი
,,These Georgians are different-looking people. They are dark, almost gypsy-looking, with shining teeth, and long well-formed noses, and black curly hair. Nearly all the men wear mustaches, and they are handsomer than the women. They are lean and energetic, and their eyes are black and sparkling. We had read and .had been told that this is an ancient Semitic people, a people which had come originally from the Euphrates Valley, at a time before Babylon was a city; that they are Sumerians, and tha ...more
Sooz
so many books of this time period focus on Stalin and all that came with him, so it is a pleasant change to see him take a minor role in Steinbeck's journal. still it is surprising that there is not a single mention of the gulags (the penal labour camps) the exiles and the executions. none. i get that people aren't going to bring up a topic that can only mean trouble for them and their families - still you'd think Steinbeck and Capa would have heard rumours or something.

Steinbeck's descriptions
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Nacho.gb
Jul 24, 2013 Nacho.gb rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Airports and Beach
A Russian trip: alcohol and put the world to rights

In 1947 John Steinbeck and Robert Capa landed in Russia. Until recently, specifically in 2012, A Russian Journal wasn't translate to Spanish. I got a surprise when I have got news about this book for four reasons:
1) I'm journalist
2) I love The Grapes of Wrath and John Steinbeck
3) I love Frank Cappa's pictures
4) I'm reading about Russia and URSS

I took the book and I have to say that it's quick reading but it's because there isn't literature. Mor
...more
Dirk-Jan
In 1947 begint de Koude Oorlog wat op te warmen. Bij gebrek aan een 'echte' oorlog lijkt Robert Capa, in essentie een oorlogsfotograaf, met zijn ziel onder zijn arm te lopen. Ook John Steinbeck zit in een fase in zijn schrijversleven waarin hij toe is aan een nieuwe impuls. Zijn magnum opus East of Eden is in aanbouw maar nog niet lang af. Volgens A Russian Journal wordt tijdens een avondje in de kroeg besloten eens na te vragen bij de Herald Tribune of een reisje Sovjet-Unie erin zit. Dit blijk ...more
Shauna
This book is remarkably unbiased, considering Steinbeck & Capa were entering the USSR at the beginning of the Cold War. Steinbeck's narrative is amazingly relatable - it feels like you're reading the travel journal of an old friend. Normally, I wouldn't choose a book like this. A friend recommended it, and I'm glad he did! It gave me an entirely new perspective on foreign countries and their citizens. The problem with history education (in the US anyways) is that we don't emphasize the littl ...more
sdw
Jul 25, 2008 sdw rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Steinbeck fans
Shelves: mydissertation
John Steinbeck and his friend photographer Robert Capa go to Russia and publish, upon return, a travelogue with accompanying photos, in 1948, adding to the mystery I see in Steinbeck’s politics. He goes, he explains, not out of any political reason or to discuss politics, but to learn who the everyday Russian people are, how they live, what they eat, what they are like. He concludes, “Well, there it is. It’s about what we went for. We found, as we had suspected, that the Russian people are peopl ...more
Lisa
This is a wonderful liitle book, and quite an eye-opener. Written a scant three years after the end of the Second World war, when the world was coming to terms with the advent of the Iron Curtain, John Steinbeck and his photographerRobert Capa set out to see for themselves what Russia* was like.

Not surprisingly, they met some obstacles in the form of Soviet bureaucracy and prohibitions, and since they had to rely on government-approved translators, everywhere they went they were at their mercy
...more
Bookmaniac70
Прочетох с интерес. "Руски дневник" на Стайнбек е необикновена документална книга поради времето, в което е писана и отсъствието на авторски коментари и анализи към видяното. В една друга епоха, различна от тази на студената война, книгата вероятно щеше да е три пъти по-обемна, още по-богата и изпълнена с хумор. "Руски дневник" е искрен и обективен пътепис. Усеща се не толкова трагедията на една нация, минала през кървава изтощителна война,а радостта от това, че е свършила, както и ентусиазмът и ...more
Kennedy
If you like Bill Bryson, you should check this one out. Its not near as funny as Bryson's books, but it still shows Steinbeck's dry sense of humor. Steinbeck and a photographer traveled to the Soviet Union in the 1940's to tell the story of the Russian people. He sees and writes about the devastation from WWII as well as life behind the iron curtain. This Russia certainly doesn't exist today, but its an insightful and unpoliticized look at the way life was for the average Russian in the late 40' ...more
Biro Tomodachi
The seed for Steinbeck and Capa's Russian trip and journal arose from their frustration with the u.s news and the generalised representation of Russia through the Cold War paradigm in the American media. Reported by people who had never been there or took the trouble to meet real people, recycling the same old paranoid stories into a hyperbolic frenzy. Whilst their results are interesting and insightful in part, it is this desire to shed light and empathy into the American context that is this b ...more
Karrie
Before this book the only other work I'd read of Steinbeck's is Grapes of Wrath; and although I like GoW, I now think I prefer Steinbeck as a journalist/travel writer than a novelist. This is a great travelogue--minimal offering of historical backgrounds, but plenty of sharp observations of places and people, written with a great sense of humor and wit. There are also plenty of complains, of everything from the hellish Russian planes to vodka to the character that is Robert Capa. One feels his/t ...more
Buck Ward
As a Steinbeck fan and a photographer I was looking forward to reading this book. I really wasn't all that familiar with Robert Capa, except for his famous photo of the falling soldier in the Spanish civil war. I had always associated that photo with Hemingway, Steinbeck's contemporary. I was kind of expecting a large hardcover book, maybe even a coffee table book. After my library notified me that it was ready for me to pick it up, I was surprised to find a small paperback. It was published by ...more
Chris den Engelsman

A Russian Journal revisited

In 1947 John Steinbeck and Robert Capa made a journey through Russia – Moscow, Stalingrad, now Volgograd, Kiev and Tbilisi/ Tiflis and again Moscow – just in the time the 'Iron Curtain' closes.

Their quest is to discover 'the great other side' and show 'the private life of the Russian people' as they say themselves 'to set down what we saw and heard without editorial comment'. So they report about their trip in A Russian Journal, not The Russian Journal.

To John Steinbec
...more
Lillian
I picked up this slim book on a whim. Glad I did. John Steinbeck and his friend photographer Robert Capa took a forty-day trip to the Soviet Union between July 31st and mid-September 1947, visiting Moscow, Kiev, Stalingrad and Soviet Georgia. They came up with the idea while sitting in a bar discussing the newly named "cold war" and according to Capa ...
It seemed to us that behind phrases like "Iron Curtain" "cold war" and "preventative war" people and thought and humor had fully disappeared.
...more
Heather
Oct 04, 2008 Heather rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone fascinated by the Hemingway social circle and the like
Recommended to Heather by: saw it at the library in the travel section
Really enjoyed reading this. I'm a big fan of Frank Capa (life AND work--but mostly jealous of his life); so it was cool to see his pictures along with Steinbeck's writing. I particularly liked their gossipy comments on each other. A real "buddy" book; but also an interesting study in what Russia was really like behind the curtain in the late 1940s.
Chris Blocker
In my journey to read all things Steinbeck (I'm well over half way now) I have a brief layover in Russia. Steinbeck visited Soviet Russia in 1947 accompanied by photographer Robert Capa. The fact one of America's most prized writers at the time was allowed into the Soviet Union with an acclaimed photojournalist astonishes me. This was the beginning of the so-called cold war; the United States' challenges toward Russia were growing, Russia's distrust of America was strong. So Steinbeck makes it i ...more
Alice
Jan 03, 2009 Alice added it
This is a lot of fun - a travelogue of John Steinbeck and Robert Capa's adventures in the USSR in 1948 (Moscow, parts of Ukraine and Georgia, and Stalingrad, or what was left of it after the siege). I found it in a used book store for practically nothing, and it kept me entertained for a good four days.
Highjump
This was like a great New Yorker feature (except longer of course) that does a great job contextualizing the post-war Soviet Union with elements of 'being a stranger in a strange land' levity. I've read a lot about wartime and post-war Russia/Soviet Union but because this was written in 48 it seems livelier than many of the things I've read that had the benefit of decades of Cold War perspective. The scenes describing the Stalingrad residents were especially wonderful. The photos are a nice addi ...more
David
A Russian Journal by John Steinbeck, pictures by Robert Capa (Bantam Books 1970) (914.7). In 1947, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck visited Russia just after the conclusion of World War II. This is his fantastic account of post-War Russia, the citizenry, and the progress of rebuilding a nation. He was apparently given unprecedented freedom and access to visit pretty much anywhere in Russia, and he was not aware of ever having been denied the right to interview any subject in which Steinbeck was ...more
Nektarios Kalogirou
Πρόκειται για ένα βιβλίο - ρεπορτάζ για την καθημερινή ζωή της μεταπολεμικής Ρωσίας. Απλώς καθημερινές εικόνες της Ρωσίας, της Ουκρανίας, της Γεωργίας (ως πρώην Σοβιετική Ενωση), εικόνες απλών ανθρώπων που δίνουν την ευκαιρία να καταλάβεις πολλά για τη ψυχοσύνθεση εκείνων που αποτελούν την Ρωσική κοίνωνία.
Ο Στάιμπεκ είναι υπέροχος στις περιγραφές του, χωρίς σάλτσες και περιττά στοιχεία, ταξιδεύεις μέσα από τα λόγια του.
Οι φωτογραφίες του Ρόμπερτ Κάπα απέχουν πολύ από την φωτογραφική πραγματικότ
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Camille
"We were beginning to understand the quality of Roosevelt's memory in the world, and the great sense of tragedy at his death. And I remembered a story that I had heard one time. Within a week of the death of Lincoln, the news of his death had penetrated even to the middle of Africa, sometimes on the drums, and sometimes carried by runners. The news traveled that a world tragedy had taken place. And it seems to us that it doesn't matter, actually, what Roosevelt-haters think or say, it doesn't ev ...more
James (JD) Dittes
Steinbeck's trip to the Soviet Union looks almost miraculous in retrospect, occurring as it did in a window between the end of World War 2 and the onset of full-blown Cold War.

If Steinbeck had tried this book two or three years later, he would have been putting his entire career in jeopardy with every word. Instead, he returned home from Russia and began working on East of Eden.

What is most notable about this book is Steinbeck's clear fascination with working Russians, Ukrainians and Georgians.
...more
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley
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More about John Steinbeck...
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“Sometimes it seems that the leaders of nations are little boys with chips on their shoulders, daring each other to knock them off.” 2 likes
“They taught us a toast in Ukranian which we like: 'Let us drink to make people at home happy.' And they toasted again to peace, always to peace. Both of these men had been soldiers, and both of them had been wounded, and they drank to peace.” 2 likes
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