It All Started With Gogol:
Scenes From Life In Russia
by Thomas L. Aman Trafford Publishing

"There were factories—relatively small ones to be sure—but smoke-spewing structures that provided a setting for the grinding slog of an existence that apparently varied not at all from one day to the next."

During the decades of the Cold War, the tensions between the world's two major superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, were at times almost palpable. It was a period of extreme distrust, fear, and even greater misunderstanding between the two nations. The few American visitors to the USSR during these decades were normally very restricted as to what they could see and who they could interact with on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain, but occasionally either through luck or unusual circumstances a Westerner would be able to get a truer glimpse of the Russian people and their society than what was shared in the media. The author was one of these privileged few and paints for his readers a very different portrait of what life under the Soviets was like during the last few decades before the government's collapse.

Aman's love for Russian culture began as a young man when he first encountered a book by Gogol. His passionate interest led him to a PhD in the subject, a long career as a foreign businessman in the country, and a marriage to a Soviet citizen. Although the stories he tells are from his personal experiences, his primary focus is not on himself but on the fascinating individuals and situations he encounters during his life in the Eastern Bloc. For example, the reader is entertained with enlightening and often humorous tales about travel on Russian trains, foreign businessmen trying to keep up with their Russian counterparts in food and vodka, the couple's move to Kazakhstan, and even anecdotes about the family dog, Suzi. In short, Gogol is a well-written book which presents a unique and engaging view of what it was like to live on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

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