A Russian Journal, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


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A Russian Journal is the distillation of their journey and remains a remarkable memoir and unique historical document.

Steinbeck and Capa recorded the grim realities of factory workers, government clerks, and peasants, as they emerged from the rubble of World War II.

This is an intimate glimpse of two artists at the height of their powers, answering their need to document human struggle.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Diaries, letters & journals
  • ISBN: 9780141186337



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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 clashed, worked together and bonded.

The information gathered is unlike any other, being more of a human nature. More of a documentation viewing the life of the Russian people, not the politics. Pieces of it bored me and I found myself dragging but as I was dragging I found my interest being perked in the next section with something just as interesting. This made me easily like the book, writing and content. The bits that were dull were dreadfully dull but the interesting bits are more then enough to make up for it.

Steinbeck does a wonderful job telling the story with a varied eye. I believe this is why I find myself on this roller coaster, he makes sure there is something for everyone and doesn't miss a beat on anything he sees or experiences. It is a very thorough account of the travels. The photographs alone tell a wonderful tale and aid in the story, putting you right there and keeping you wondering about the life and times of the Russian people after the war.

Some of my favorite bits were about the obsession the Russians have over soccer (as in most Europeans). They have a great passion for the game. Point in case:
"The only really heated argument we heard during our stay in Russia concerned Soccer". I also particularly liked the parts about Georgia and the Georgians and I now find myself wanting to visit that part of the country very badly. Not to forget that I now have a desperate need to visit and try all the food that he writes about. Yum!

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