A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union Essay - Critical Essays

A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union

On May 15, 1987, one hundred photographers, fifty from the West and fifty from the Soviet Bloc nations, spent the day shooting pictures throughout the Soviet Union. The results of that shoot are beautifully displayed in this impressive volume. The accompanying text, which includes a pithy and insightful introduction by Harrison Salisbury and historical and social information on the people and places in each photograph, provides a wealth of lore on the country and its citizens. The photographs, chosen from more than 100,000 taken and almost all in color, are remarkable. The requisite shots are here: the onion-shaped domes of churches, train stations at night, old buildings and new apartments, and the ubiquitous images of Lenin. There are spectacular shots of rural and urban landscapes that document the diversity and immensity of the nation and images that illuminate the occupations and life-styles of the people.

In the final analysis, it is the images of the people themselves that remain in the memory. The universal openness of children in school and at play, the smiling faces of Eskimo fishermen, the proud, serious mien of medal-bedecked war veterans, the shy, almost coy glances of old women off to work on a motorbike--these images, and others like them, show a society very different from others and at the same time testify to the universality of the human condition. The book is a total joy.