53 Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today

Posted on September 23, 2010 by team


In 1977 the National Geographic Society (the USA) published this book of a journalist Bart McDowell and a photographer Dean Conger - 370 pages of "personalized geography", a portrait of the huge country and its people. Two Americans travelled to all 15 republics, visited dozens of cities and made a detailed story about the Soviet Union.


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The first day at school - a Ukrainian schoolgirl

Many faces of the Soviet Union

Ice-cream vendors in Kreschatik, Kiev

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53 Responses to “Travelling to Russia: the Soviet Union Today”

  1. Nightstranger says:

    Great Pictures, thanks! First by the way )))

  2. Luis says:

    First!

    Those days are gone.

  3. I have this book. My wife has pictures of her in the same type dress that the girl on the cover is wearing. Got to love those little pioneers of the CCCP!

  4. George Johnson says:

    Strange to see the boys and girls standing there together in their underwear. Notice how their shoulder blades stuck out??

  5. Testicules says:

    What a sad existance

  6. kbr says:

    aren’t we missing some countries? Or am I wrong.

    But as one person said: ‘these days are gone’

  7. aa says:

    Despite all the bad things, it was such a great place with such good people… You have to have been there to know.

    • Jim-Bob says:

      Agreed. Whatever issues we in the west may have had with the communist system, it was not the fault of those who were forced to live under it. Most of the people in the USSR were decent human beings with the same hopes and dreams as anyone else. Having had the opportunity to meet relatives from the USSR when they visited the US in 1982 (I was 8 at the time), I can honestly say they were wonderful people. They brought me some toys from the USSR that I have kept to this day out of respect for them and what they went through to bring them to me. Oddly though, the problem was not with the Soviet side of things, but rather with US customs who showed their own prejudices while doing their jobs.

  8. xoxo says:

    people look so happy and so full with life. great pictures.

  9. SSSR says:

    The little girl in the top pic looks like my girlfriends daughter Kseniya.

  10. Tuukka says:

    Actually looks like a nice country, great photos.
    I don’t really have the same feelings nowdays

  11. Tuukka says:

    looks like a nice country, great photos.
    I don’t really have the same feelings nowdays

  12. SovMarxist1924 says:

    Yep, had this book.

  13. Archy Bunka says:

    I had this book, a nice book. Could someone explain, how a car can cost over $7000 inside the country in which it was built, as opposed to $1900 exported price? This makes absolutely no sense.

    • CZenda says:

      First, the exchange rate of USD/rouble was absurd, state-owned banks paid only a fraction of the true value for “capitalist” hard currencies. Second, the Commie states desperately needed hard currencies, thus they were ready to sell anything rotten West was ready to absorb for any price. It was said that e.g. Škoda 120 (piece of junk obsolete even when on a drawing board) was sold abroad at a price which did not even cover the manufacturing costs.

      • Archy Bunka says:

        I am sure you are right, the writer meant roubles, not dollars. Nevertheless, this exporting and selling of a product below cost is probably one factor in the end of the USSR. Economic folly.

  14. Just Cause says:

    It would seem that Mr. Ford’s downtrodden workers could afford the Model T they built and Soviet auto workers could not. $7400 was much money in the 70’s. Most new cars were under $6000 then.

  15. Dutchman says:

    “The cheapest “Zhiguli” model costs $7420 inside the country” – man that looks like a mistake. “Zhiguli”, and namely VAZ 2101 cost 7420 Soviet roubles – remeber, as if were now:))) My father had it.
    No matter how strongly a mere mortal would burn with the desire to spend/buy US dollars on the territory of former USSR, he would be grabbed by the police and indicted of exchange fraud.

  16. mad1982 says:

    cool pix

  17. Avl says:

    Great pictures! Thanks! It was my counry…

  18. Tina says:

    Very nice pictures, but I missed pictures from Lithuania. Article says that the authors visited all the republics and yes, there are pictures from Latvia and Estonia, but none from Lithuania.

  19. Jim G. in NY says:

    Excellent photos. I will have to see if my library has this book, or find one used.

  20. Zipp says:

    I know many Russian people who say that they had nothing in those days, but life was somehow happier.

  21. Gena says:

    wow!!! Time machine!! Great stuff!!

  22. Israeru says:

    Scan the book and upload. I am from Nicaragua, another communist country in the 80 and the time of communist is the better time for my country too.

  23. russia_bound says:

    Very cool pictures, a glimpse into another time and place is always a welcome sight. Back then it was another world, one that did not have some of the issues that we as humans face today. Thanks very much for the uploads…

  24. Bogata says:

    Nice pics!

  25. DougW says:

    ISBN 0870442198
    ISBN13: 9780870442193
    original title:
    JOURNEY ACROSS RUSSIA: SOVIET UNION TODAY

    Think I’m going to order this book just to see the rest.

  26. GlobeTrekker says:

    Posts like this are why I love this site. Keep it up!

  27. SSSR says:

    Does that book have soviet leaders in it-good and bad?I like the Russian Federation so much better!

  28. SMG says:

    Lovely photo essay! I’m in U.S.A. studying about Russia in World Geography. U.S.A. & Russia should always be friends and not enemies! I do hope the two countries’ peoples can be friends. Thank you.

  29. Ivana Benderova says:

    The fotos are of very good quality. However that should be very well expected – considering the source of the fotos.

    Are they typical, normal, actual, not well-staged in these times…? Absolutely not, and not by a long shot.

    If you want to argue about these fact, go right ahead. I will not miss any moment of sleep for it.

  30. Mishael says:

    the book is great and the pictures show how generally wonderful it was to live in the FSU for many people, what they don’t show is the pictures of residents of Serbskogo Institute of mental diseases, that’s the place where many of the otkazniks were sent and kept. I was born in Ukraine when it was still Soviet and I perfectly remember having to stand in the queue at the bread shop for 2.5 hours!!! outside!!! in the cold winter morning!

    My family has a matchmaking agency and we help men from the West to find nice and family oriented Ukrainian women, and i can see that most of the guys have a genuine interest towards the history of the USSR and the time of cold war is gone, at least between Ukraine and the West

    • Mishael says:

      the book is great and the pictures show how generally wonderful it was to live in the FSU for many people, what they don’t show is the pictures of residents of Serbskogo Institute of mental diseases, that’s the place where many of the otkazniks were sent and kept. I was born in Ukraine when it was still Soviet and I perfectly remember having to stand in the queue at the bread shop for 2.5 hours!!! outside!!! in the cold winter morning!

      My family has a matchmaking agency Mordinson and we help men from the West to find nice and family oriented Ukrainian women, and i can see that most of the guys have a genuine interest towards the history of the USSR and the time of cold war is gone, at least between Ukraine and the West

  31. “I’d like to say that you always offer valid information and I have been an fascinated reader of your site for quite some time. I wanted to say thankyou really :) for all the good work you do!”

  32. Gennady Sokolov says:

    I made this book together with Bart McDowell and Dean Conger from the National Geographic Society 35 years ago. And I cherish every moment of our joint work back in 1974-76. It’s great to see Dean’s excellent pix on the site of English Russia. I’m glad that his brilliant photographic contribution to the book project is appreciated by the site visitors. Thank you on behalf of the three of us. God bless you and God bless Russia!

    • Yo says:

      I am 24 years old, from mexico. I was so interested in see life in the CCCP, great i found this web. I am gonna buy this book right now.!!!

    • Trevor says:

      You were the translator! I’m sure you contributed a great deal to its success. I am a writer working primarily in the former Soviet Union and always enjoy coming back to this book. Is there anyway I can contact you to further discuss your experience with the National Geographic journalists?

  33. V.Revoy says:

    great insight for historians, a peak into daily life was then for ordinary people

  34. Davor says:

    Does anyone know where I could buy this book?

  35. Kharkovite says:

    Great! Thanks! Modest but happy people.

    P.S. 2Davor: you can buy it on Ebay or Amazon.

  36. John says:

    God bless you, mr. Sokolov and thank you so much for your contribution. I have been coming back to this site for many years now and it never fails to astonish me with amazing and genuine material, such as this book by you and the gentlemen of the National Geographic Society.

  37. iakovos says:

    Russia vs Turkey : The Geopolitics of the South & the Turk Stream Pipelines
    https://iakal.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/russia-vs-turkey-the-geopolitics-of-tuth-the-turk-stream-pipelines/

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