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A Russian Journal

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  703 ratings  ·  63 reviews
A memoir that takes not only to Moscow and Stalingrad (now Volgograd) but through the countryside of the Ukraine and the Caucasus. It shows how Robert Capa recorded the grim realities of factory workers, government clerks, and peasants, as they emerged from the rubble of World War II.
Paperback, 212 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (first published 1948)
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Community Reviews

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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.

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
AmberBug **

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
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
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
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
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
,,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
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
Jul 24, 2013 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
"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
Travel writing, but a different kind of travel writing. Steinbeck and Capa earned admission to post-WWII Russia on the premise that they wished to see what Russia and the Russian people were truly like as they felt (without knowing for sure) that the American media was full of gross misrepresentations. The stated goal was to record what they saw objectively. This approach puts the work in a space between true travel writing and some kind of socio-anthropological reporting.

Steinbeck gets a B for
Rules of Travel:

1) NEVER drink another man's whiskey.
2) NEVER take another man's book.
3) If you have car trouble, there will always be a Greek to help.

That aside, this is a book that everyone should read before they are allowed to watch the news. Ever. It is a great look at the People of the country, not the Politics. In this day and age of immediate information, it is easier than ever to get misinformation and Steinbeck really had the right idea of going to the Russian people and asking 'Do you
Caitlin Churchill
"Wherever we had been in Russia, in Moscow, in the Ukraine, in Stalingrad, the magical name of Georgia came up constantly. People who had never been there, and who possibly never could go there, spoke of Georgia with a kind of longing and a great admiration. They spoke of Georgians as supermen, as great drinkers, great dancers, great musicians, great workers and lovers. And they spoke of the country in the Caucasus and around the Black Sea as a kind of second heaven."
"...This is an ancient Semit
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
După al Doilea Război Mondial, la un pahar de Siussesse, Steinbeck şi Capa se hotărăsc să plece în Rusia. De ce? Pentru că deja jurnalismul mainstream era unul al opiniilor câtorva specialişti, iar ştirile despre Rusia, în afară de ideologie şi politică, veneau fără vreo informaţie despre oamenii de acolo şi starea lor după război. Aşa că-şi obţin vizele şi pleacă.

Jurnalul lor rusesc înseamnă impresiile a doi prieteni lost in translation, care-şi descoperă amuzaţi ticurile şi se trezesc în locur
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Steinbeck fans: A Russian Journal 5 9 Oct 28, 2014 07:11AM  
Modern Russia 2 7 Jan 10, 2014 11:10AM  
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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
More about John Steinbeck...
Of Mice and Men The Grapes of Wrath East of Eden The Pearl Cannery Row

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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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