A Russian Journal

  • by John Steinbeck
  • Narrated by Richard Poe
  • 7 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Steinbeck and Capa's account of their journey through Cold War Russia is a classic piece of reportage and travel writing.
Just after the Iron Curtain fell on Eastern Europe, Pulitzer Prize-winning author 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 travelers not only to Moscow and Stalingrad - now Volgograd - but through the countryside of the Ukraine and the Caucasus. Hailed by the New York Times as "superb" when it first appeared in 1948, A Russian Journal is the distillation of their journey and remains a remarkable memoir and unique historical document.
What they saw and movingly recorded in words and on film was what Steinbeck called "the great other side there... the private life of the Russian people." Unlike other Western reporting about Russia at the time, A Russian Journal is free of ideological obsessions. Rather, Steinbeck and Capa recorded the grim realities of factory workers, government clerks, and peasants, as they emerged from the rubble of World War II - represented here in Capa's stirring photographs alongside Steinbeck's masterful prose.
Through it all, we are given intimate glimpses of two artists at the height of their powers, answering their need to document human struggle. This edition features an introduction by Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Extremely Interesting

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 The report they created on life under Joseph Stalin’s command, is a highly valuable historical document.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 photographic archive, are seen living in totally different conditions from those in the West. They were rebuilding a war torn country with the use of only primitive tools as the Germans destroyed all mechanized equipment as they pulled out of Russia. Steinbeck and Capa tried to avoid meeting officials and ministers, but to find time to travel across the cities to speak to people and to understand the way they were living. They tried for honest reporting without drawing conclusions.

The book sort of reminds me of “Travels with Charley” because it is a non-fiction travel memoir. Steinbeck was a great observer of life, and characters. He wrote of the Russian people with great respect. Steinbeck writes very well about the humor in situations, like the nightmares of bureaucracy and the difficulties of travel. Great book and a must read for those interested in history or just a good Steinbeck story. Richard Poe narrated the book.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Steinbeck non-fiction is always good!

I love Steinbeck's writing, both his fiction and his non-fiction. So I am biased perhaps. This audio is as good as any of Steinbeck's later narratives, like Travels with Charley and Sea of Cortez, both of which I loved. A Russian Journal details Steinbecks' travels in Russia with Robert Capa after World War II. They went there to see how common folk lived and what was going on at ground level in the country. Steinbeck was the words man and Capa the photographs man. And Steinbeck reported in this book all the types of details and human interest events that he was known for in all his writing. The narrator of this book does an excellent job...good pacing, excellent diction, and occasional emphasis when appropriate...a good narrator does not stand between the listener and the book, he disappears and that is exactly what this narrator does....it is as if he is not there...he is not a distraction.
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- Doug "Retired teacher of literature with an interest in religion and in science and in history. I have loved reading for 50 years."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-13-2014
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio