Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
This book by John Steinbeck can be described as an eyewitness where he wrote the daily life of Stalin’s Soviet Union. As a first layer of the journal he travelled to Georgia, Kiev, Moscow and Stalingrad, during forty days between July 31 and September 1947 he was documenting the social, cultural life of the peoples and of the nature that surrounded him. However, he was also accompanied by the famous war photographer Robert Capa which was responsible to leave photographic report.
The situation Russia had in 1947 was an instability growing tensions caused because of the background; World War II. As an immediate response to the Second World War, the Cold War emerged, which is the context to Steinbeck’s journal. As a brief review of the situation, Russia and the United States were leading a political, economic, social, military, informatic and scientific dispute that absorbed countries form the West and East Europe onto the discussion; creating proxy wars. The East side was under the control of Russia, while The United States of America had the Occidental countries. Specifically, the situations in big cities (where Steinbeck travelled) such as Stalingrad, the daily life was complex and seemed as a battlefield for food and other necessities, not only because of their current situations, but because of the destruction left from World War II.
Moving to the journal, it develops with several comments of Steinbeck towards the strength and hope people where conveying, even when they where in a situation that showed the opposite. The way it is described each of the populations it feels as if he had been there for a very long time, he talks about the habitants of Mosco, personally, as one of the populations more affected by this catastrophe. Throughout the journal we can see many different places, and curiosities that Stalin’s Russia offered. There is also comments on the complications that Capa had in sever occasions where he said; “Russians are against me”, as a reference to the difficulties he found on taking in pictures with such dull portraits. However, Capa and Steinbeck did a magnificent job at recreating the complications of the soviet society in those years, given that we know the stories in the text books, but this journal represents more the reality. Written from a personal perspective.
Continuing with characteristics of the book, I would like to emphasize the way in which Steinbeck writes the journal. He is writing about a society that is leaving in the remains of what they have after the iron curtain fell, it is a complex historical document and a future memorial of the lives of this people. Written in an intimate way to successfully construct a bond between the reader and the people in the journal.