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Barry Broadfoot

Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1989. 253pp, cloth, $24.95
ISBN 0-7710-1676-X. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Louise Reimer.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

In 1987, with the assistance of the Novosti Press Agency, Broadfoot under­took a thirty-two-day tour of Russia, from Moscow to Leningrad, including the Ukraine, the Siberian taiga, Estonia, and the southern reaches of Georgia. His trip presented an unprecedented opportunity to meet and talk with ordinary Soviets. While some contacts were arranged through his hosts, he was also allowed to speak with people he encountered in restaurants, subways, taxicabs and markets.

Ordinary Russians presents Broadfoot's conversations with forty different people, ranging from factory workers and waitresses to doctors and teachers. Broadfoot is careful to let these people speak for themselves, keeping his comments and interpreta­tions to a minimum. A number of common threads emerge: the economic straits of the average Russian house­hold, the strong sense of regionalism, and the general optimism with which many view Gorbachev and the policies of glasnost and perestroika.

Less persistent readers may find language a hindrance, for many of the recorded conversations are in English that is not entirely fluent. Attentive readers should have no difficulty overcoming this obstacle, however.

Given the recent moves toward openness in eastern bloc countries, Ordinary Russians is a particularly timely book. General readers and students of social studies will appreciate these glimpses into the lives and thoughts of contemporary Soviets.

Louise Reimer, Edmonton Public Library, Edmonton, Alta.
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