My Life in Stalinist Russia

My Life in Stalinist Russia : An American Woman Looks Back

3.92 (25 ratings by Goodreads)
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The thoughtful memoirs of a disillusioned daughter of the Russian Revolution.... A sometimes astonishing, worm's-eye view of life under totalitarianism, and a valuable contribution to Soviet and Jewish studies." -Kirkus ReviewsIn this engrossing memoir, Leder recounts the 34 years she lived in the U.S.S.R.... [She] has a marvelous memory for the details of everyday life.... This plainly written account will particularly appeal to readers with a general interest in women's memoirs, Russian culture and history, and leftist politics." -Publishers WeeklyIn 1931, Mary M. Leder, an American teenager, was attending high school in Santa Monica, California. By year's end, she was living in a Moscow commune and working in a factory, thousands of miles from her family, with whom she had emigrated to Birobidzhan, the area designated by the USSR as a Jewish socialist homeland. Although her parents soon returned to America, Mary, who was not permitted to leave, would spend the next 34 years in the Soviet Union. My Life in Stalinist Russia chronicles Leder's experiences from the extraordinary perspective of both an insider and an outsider. Readers will be drawn into the life of this independent-minded young woman, coming of age in a society that she believed was on the verge of achieving justice for all but which ultimately led her to disappointment and disillusionment. Leder's absorbing memoir presents a microcosm of Soviet history and an extraordinary window into everyday life and culture in the Stalin era.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 360 pages
  • 147.3 x 233.7 x 26.7mm | 580.61g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 21 b&w photos, 1 bibliog., 1 index
  • 0253214424
  • 9780253214423
  • 2,092,343

Review quote

Mary Mackler Leder was by no means a significant figure in Stalinist Russia, but readers will find that she writes an arresting observer's account of life in Russia over more than two decades. Sovietologists of the Stalinist era will find interesting anecdotes about Soviet life that confirm, revise, and in some cases authenticate the constructed sociology of the time. One example that constantly reappears is Leder's insistence on stating that she is an American, while the authorities both high and low, all across the Soviet Union, simply classify her as Jewish, with all the usual and stereotypical ramifications of that view. Two particular periods of the account are noteworthy-those about the purges in the 1930s and the war years, during which time her baby daughter died. Perhaps most remarkable is Leder's ability to recall her past with exquisite detail and precision so many years beyond the events. Upper-division undergraduates and above.January 2002 -- C. W. Haury * Piedmont Virginia Community College *
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Table of contents

Introduction by Laurie Bernstein and Robert WeinbergPrologue1. My Family Leaves for the Soviet Union-19312. Birobidzhan-19313. Settling in Moscow-1931 to 19324. The Factory and the Commune-The Winter of 1931/19325. A Teenager in Moscow-Spring 19326. My parents leave-Summer of 1932 to Summer of 19337. Americans and Other Foreigners in Moscow-1933 to 19348. A Biology Student at Moscow University-1934 to 19359. A History Student at Moscow University-1935 to 193610. At the Commissariat of Defense-November 1936 to March 193811. Purges and the Publishing House-Spring 1938 to Winter 193912. Newlyweds-Winter 1939 to Summer 194113. The Outbreak of War-194114. Evacuation from Moscow and Return-Fall 1941 to Spring 194215. TASS and Moscow University-1942 to 194616. Berlin-194617. Postwar Moscow-194718. Postwar Anti-Semitism-1948 to 195019. Respite-195020. During Stalin's Final Years-1950 to 1953Suggestions for Further ReadingIndex
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Rating details

25 ratings
3.92 out of 5 stars
5 32% (8)
4 32% (8)
3 32% (8)
2 4% (1)
1 0% (0)
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