The thoughtful memoirs of a disillusioned daughter of the Russian Revolution.... A sometimes astonishing, worm’s-eye view of life under totalitarianism, and a valuable contribution to Soviet and Jewish studies." Kirkus Reviews
In this engrossing memoir, Leder recounts the 34 years she lived in the U.S.S.R.... [She] has a marvelous memory for the details of everyday life.... This plainly written account will particularly appeal to readers with a general interest in women’s memoirs, Russian culture and history, and leftist politics." Publishers Weekly
In 1931, Mary M. Leder, an American teenager, was attending high school in Santa Monica, California. By year’s end, she was living in a Moscow commune and working in a factory, thousands of miles from her family, with whom she had emigrated to Birobidzhan, the area designated by the USSR as a Jewish socialist homeland. Although her parents soon returned to America, Mary, who was not permitted to leave, would spend the next 34 years in the Soviet Union. My Life in Stalinist Russia chronicles Leder’s experiences from the extraordinary perspective of both an insider and an outsider. Readers will be drawn into the life of this independent-minded young woman, coming of age in a society that she believed was on the verge of achieving justice for all but which ultimately led her to disappointment and disillusionment. Leder’s absorbing memoir presents a microcosm of Soviet history and an extraordinary window into everyday life and culture in the Stalin era.
Mary M. Leder has lived in New York since her return from the Soviet Union in 1965.
Laurie Bernstein is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University, Camden, and author of Sonia’s Daughters: Prostitutes and Their Regulation in Imperial Russia.
Robert Weinberg is Associate Professor of History at Swarthmore College. He is author of The Revolution of 1905 in Odessa: Blood on the Steps and Stalin’s Forgotten Zion: Birobidzhan and The Making of a Soviet Jewish Homeland.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Laurie Bernstein and Robert Weinberg Prologue 1. My Family Leaves for the Soviet Union1931 2. Birobidzhan1931 3. Settling in Moscow1931 to 1932 4. The Factory and the CommuneThe Winter of 1931/1932 5. A Teenager in MoscowSpring 1932 6. My parents leaveSummer of 1932 to Summer of 1933 7. Americans and Other Foreigners in Moscow1933 to 1934 8. A Biology Student at Moscow University1934 to 1935 9. A History Student at Moscow University1935 to 1936 10. At the Commissariat of DefenseNovember 1936 to March 1938 11. Purges and the Publishing HouseSpring 1938 to Winter 1939 12. NewlywedsWinter 1939 to Summer 1941 13. The Outbreak of War1941 14. Evacuation from Moscow and ReturnFall 1941 to Spring 1942 15. TASS and Moscow University1942 to 1946 16. Berlin1946 17. Postwar Moscow1947 18. Postwar Anti-Semitism1948 to 1950 19. Respite1950 20. During Stalin’s Final Years1950 to 1953 Suggestions for Further Reading Index