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FIFTY RUSSIAN WINTERS:
An American Woman's Life in the Soviet Union

Author: Margaret Wettlin

A gripping account of Soviet life as experienced by an American who lived for 50 years on an absolutely equal basis with Russians, this book is packed with details of everyday life from giving birth in a Soviet hospital to living in a Moscow communal apartment. Forced to give up her American citizenship during Stalin's reign, Wettlin was coerced into becoming an informant for the KGB. She describes what Russia was like during and after World War II, her travels from the Baltic states to Siberia, Outer Mongolia, Leningrad, Uzbekistan and Georgia. Her mesmerizing book offers a background for understanding Soviet events that molded the Russian mind--from revolutionary enthusiasm to a complete repudiation of communism.

From Kirkus Reviews
In this unflinching account of betrayed ideals, Wettlin, an American who went to Russia in 1932 for one year but fell in love and stayed another 50, gives a stunning and moving portrait of a long-suffering people ``essentially unpragmatic, uncompetitive, and acutely sensitive to the mystery of life.'' A native of Philadelphia, Wettlin went to the Soviet Union eager to contribute her skills as a high-school teacher to this nation that promised so much. She found a job teaching English, but, more significantly, she met and fell in love with Andrei Efremoff, a director and protege of Stanislavsky. The two married and went to Mongolia--a place still relatively unchanged by the Communist regime--where Andrei established a regional theater. Back in Moscow, a son and daughter were born; Andrei worked in the theater; and Wettlin taught English--but the times were changing as the great purges began. Though friends and colleagues were arrested, Wettlin, who still believed in the all-knowing benevolent state (and here she makes no excuses for her behavior), began working for the KGB. The Second World War exacted even harsher privations as the author and her husband fled with their children and thousands of other refugees into the Crimea. Her disillusionment began with the lack of change after the war and culminated in a moment of agonized mea culpa. Again working for the KGB, she realized at last "that between bright moments of seeing the light I had traveled down tunnels of self-deception.'' Wettlin, now widowed, left the Soviet Union in the 1980's, followed a few years later by her family. Indeed a witness to an age, Wettlin has seamlessly interwoven her experiences of seminal events, searing hardships, and remarkable friendships into an eloquent personal record of hope abandoned.
©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP.
$23.95 (softcover)
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