Russia and the Russians: Inside the Closed Society; Life in Russia

In This Review

Russia and the Russians: Inside the Closed Society

By Kevin Klose
Norton, 1984
350 pp. $17.50
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Life in Russia

By Michael Binyon
Pantheon, 1984
304 pp. $15.95
Purchase

In the pattern set by Hedrick Smith and Robert Kaiser, American and British correspondents assigned to the U.S.S.R. continue to write ambitious books about what makes Soviet society tick. Neither Kevin Klose of The Washington Post nor Michael Binyon of The Times has much to say about Kremlin politics or the prospects for the Soviet economy. Both seek to explore Soviet reality at the level of the people. Klose's personal and conversational account concentrates on the system of repression, on the tribulations and courage of those persecuted by the regime (from ordinary workers to Sakharov), and on the games correspondents play to outwit the KGB and the censorship. Binyon looks more systematically at Soviet society (status of women, youth, health care, arts and leisure, Russian and minority nationalism, and so on); his eye is sharp, his writing distinguished, his conclusions unexceptionable and unexceptional.