Russian Experiences: Life in the Former USSR and Post-Soviet Russia

Reviewed by Denise M. Clark

"Russian Experiences: Life in the Former USSR and Post-Soviet Russia"
By The Raven and Marie Claire
Publisher: Publishing Inc.
108 pgs.; 2002
Paperback, $12.95; Hardcover, $17.95

Do you know the difference between Communism and National Socialism? Do you have any idea what it was like to live in Post World War II Russia? How about the Cold War period? Do you know what happened during the turbulent period of upheaval during the late 1980's to the early 1990's, a period that witnessed the death throes of the former entity known as the USSR?

Unless one went through it, experienced it, and lived it, one can't ever really know. But a man known as "The Raven" did live through it, and, with the help of co-writer Marie Claire, he tells us his story.

The Raven was born into a period of poor economy, poor training and few supplies. There were no luxuries such as supermarkets, shopping malls, and fashion stores and private transportation. Due to lack of proper medical care, The Raven suffered a hearing loss accompanied by a speech impediment, and was forced from then on to deal with prejudice because of his handicap.

The Raven grew up in Baku City, the capital of Azerbaijan. Because of the conflicts between native Armenians and Azerbaijan natives, he and his brother were not allowed to go to school for long stretches of time. Ultimately, The Raven and his family left Baku, where they had lived all their lives, and moved to a region around Moscow where The Raven continued his education. Yet even there he had to struggle to gain the education that finally enabled him to rise above the poverty and narrow-mindedness of many of Russia's inhabitants.

Russian Experiences is a wonderful book that tells the story of one man's rise above his restrictive surroundings. The story is a well-written, very personal saga of the history and transition of one of the mightiest nations in the world and its complicated political history. Through the eyes of The Raven and Marie Claire, the reader begins to understand that there is much behind the facade of Russia that is rarely seen or talked about on such a personal level. Read it to learn about Russia's history and culture, and the indomitable spirit of many of its people.

This reviewer gives this book "an A for its writing style and for its presentation of both history and humanity."

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This story was published on August 7, 2002.