World History


Cold War Tourism: The Sights (and Sites) of Soviet History

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we’re taking a break from overheated rhetoric on both sides of the Iron Curtain to draw attention to the extraordinary attractions of the former Soviet Union. If, as Tip O’Neill maintained, “all politics is local,” then surely some travel is beneficial for discovering the soul of Russia beyond the slogans and soundbites.   


Guidebook to Moscow Clubs and Houses of Culture (1961) 

Behold, a comprehensive reference to such diverse institutions as the Central House of the Architect, the Club of the Moscow Liquor-Brandy Distillery, the Club of the Low Gas Consumption Automobile Factory, and hundreds of other social and industrial societies circa 1961. This guide comes complete with addresses, telephone numbers, transit connections, and summary paragraphs of the attractions. For an adventurous traveller, it would provide an unorthodox and fascinating means of exploring Moscow off the beaten track and from a unique historical perspective. (163 pages) 


Instructions for Patients at Health Resorts in the Ukraine (1962) 

Cold War Tourism: The Sights (and Sites) of Soviet History

“The Iron Hand of Persecution”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The April release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an English minister's examination of the "United States of America and of the European Settlements in America and the West-Indies," published in 1796. This work includes the color plate of a tobacco plant seen to the right. Also highlighted below are works printed in London offering two perspectives on the slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean.   


An Historical, Geographical, Commercial, and Philosophical View of the United States of America and of the European Settlements in America and the West-Indies (1796) 

By William Winterbotham 

“The Iron Hand of Persecution”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“Power, Grandeur, and Oppression”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The February release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a compilation of travel literature written by several African explorers and two multi-volume works by Edward Delaval Hungerford Elers Napier. 


The Modern Traveller (1800)  

By William Fordyce Mavor 

William Fordyce Mavor (1758-1837) was a teacher, politician, and priest. Introducing his four volumes of travel literature, Mavor writes: 

Valuable as these productions are, yet the size and expense of the volumes preclude many readers of curiosity, intelligence, and knowledge, from being able conveniently to purchase such sources of gratification….To accommodate those who may be desirous of being acquainted with modern discoveries, without choosing to be at such an expense, the object of the present publication is to present, in an abridged form, the most remarkable travels and voyages, which have recently afforded important accessions to our acquaintance with countries and mankind. 

“Power, Grandeur, and Oppression”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

Benjamin Pogrund on the Rand Daily Mail: Former Deputy Editor Reflects on the Newspaper’s Critical Role in the Anti-Apartheid Movement

Guest post by

Benjamin Pogrund, former deputy editor, Rand Daily Mail

[Editor’s note: For decades Benjamin Pogrund served as the Rand Daily Mail’s African Affairs Reporter. He closely covered the issues and events that profoundly impacted South Africa’s black population, including the 1960 Sharpeville massacre. Pogrund later served as Deputy Editor from 1977 until the Mail’s closure in 1985. In the comments below, Pogrund—recipient of the 2005-06 Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award—provides firsthand insight into the outsized role the Rand Daily Mail played during the struggle to end apartheid.] 

The Rand Daily Mail was ahead of its time in reporting and exposing apartheid evils and in opposing oppressive government. This is why it was shut down. 

Benjamin Pogrund on the Rand Daily Mail: Former Deputy Editor Reflects on the Newspaper’s Critical Role in the Anti-Apartheid Movement

Cuba on the Threshold of Socialism: “…the economy is hard, it is hard, it does not cry.”

From the United States’ 1962 embargo until the present-day reestablishment of diplomatic and economic relations, Cuba has struggled to find a secure economic footing. This month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, show the magnitude of that undertaking from the perspectives of then-Prime Minister Fidel Castro, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and in its fundamentals relating to the food supply. 

 

Television Interview with Fidel Castro

Revolucion (Revolution) – 26 April 1962 

“…the economy is hard, it is hard, it does not cry. Then, this is the problem. It is almost Communist, but it happens that we are building socialism and there are still many persons who are not even on the threshold of socialism...”

Prime Minister Castro states this in the beginning of this excerpted interview, then elaborates on the challenges his nation faced with regard to education and public health. It’s clear that he was deeply concerned with the human aspect of development, and the interview format lends greater focus to his remarks than can be easily drawn from his more lengthy speeches. 

 

Regulations on Food Rationing in Cuba

Hoy (Today) – 13 March 1962 

“6 lbs. of rice per person, per month, throughout the country;…One 2-lb. chicken (net weight) per person, per month.”

A chicken in every pot, perhaps, but by law only once each month—this is socialism at its roots. These three brief documents lay out the essentials of food rationing during the early years of Cuba’s centralized economy. 

 

Cuba on the Threshold of Socialism: “…the economy is hard, it is hard, it does not cry.”

Suburbia and Surveillance: Political and Social Development in the Soviet Union and North Korea

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we consider suburban development in the Soviet Union, the means by which that development is accomplished, and what happens to those who fail to sustain that development, or seek to escape from it.  


Satellite Towns

State Publishing House of Geographical Literature, Moscow, 1961 

A few years after Nixon and Khrushchev’s 1959 “Kitchen Debate,” which took place in a model single-family American house created in Moscow for a cultural exhibition, the Soviet people experienced their own version of the American post-war suburban movement. In the Soviet case, however, the wholesale resettlement of millions of people was proposed. This was admitted to be an “acute and extremely complex” problem. And in place of the prototypical tract-home development common in America at the time, the Soviets envisioned higher densities in four-to-five-story residential complexes. 

This report considers suburban development throughout the Soviet Union and provides a fascinating look into aspects of central planning that touched the daily lives of many Soviet citizens. 

Suburbia and Surveillance: Political and Social Development in the Soviet Union and North Korea

Tapas Rojas: Brief Reports on Cold War Communism in Latin America

Marchers for Allende, 1964. Photograph by Jim WallaceHyperinflation in Venezuela and Argentina. Transformative elections. Plummeting oil revenue for Brazil. Leftist governments have faced significant political and economic challenges recently. Fifty years ago, regional socialist experiments were at a more nascent and often violent stage in their development.

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we’ll peruse family snapshots of Latin American politics back when communism—for all its bloodshed and “red” ideology—appeared more black-and-white.


Guerilla Threats against Peasantry

La Esfera (The Globe) – 3 December 1962

In what could be the first line of a novel, the opening sentence of this report says volumes about life in Venezuela in 1962: “Fabricio and his partisans threatened to shoot the peasants.” Che Guevara’s name comes up, as does the revolutionary character of Jesus Christ’s ministry on Earth.


Bolivian Peasant Leader Attacks Police and Defies Minister of Government

Presencia (Presence) – 23 November 1962

A government attempt to retrieve a stolen vehicle turns into a five-hour confrontation.


Communist Political Activities in Brazil

Novos Rumos (New Ways) – 14-20 December 1962

Conferences rather than confrontations here as the peasants attempt to consolidate their power and better their situation.


Cuban Economic Highlights—1961

Revolucion (Revolution) – 30 December 1961

Tapas Rojas: Brief Reports on Cold War Communism in Latin America

Beyond the Climate of Fear: Environmental Research in the Soviet Union during the 1960s

Although the United States competed with the Soviet Union politically, economically and technologically, our countries shared many of the same concerns regarding the environment. During the era when Rachel Carson was publishing Silent Spring in the West, in the East the Soviets were also looking into the dangers of organic compounds. They discussed climate change seriously, studied the effects of radioactive fallout from nuclear tests, and explored the mysteries of the northern lights. 

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we’ll take a break from politics to consider some of the more fundamental aspects of life.  


On the Problem of the Mechanism of the Selectivity of Toxicity of Organophosphorus Insecticides

Gigiyena Truda i Professional'nyye Zabolevaniya (Labor Hygiene and Occupational Diseases) — May 1963

We’re familiar with the organic compound DDT through its historical use as an insecticide and its toxic effects on wildlife. This report considers how the chemicals’ effects on insects differ from their effects on warm-blooded animals.  


The Artificial Control of the Climate of Large and Small Areas

Izvestiya Akademii Nauk SSSR, Seriya Geograficheskaya (Bulletin of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Geography Series) — 1963

Understanding the biochemistry of an insecticide is important. On the macro end of the scale, it’s also important to know the impact of our actions on the global climate. No politics intrudes on the science in this report.


Translations from Radioactive Contamination of the Environment [1962]

Beyond the Climate of Fear: Environmental Research in the Soviet Union during the 1960s

A Violent Desire of Making Discoveries, or, The Passion for Traveling: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

From Afro-Americana Imprints

The November release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia contains a remarkable 18th-century history of the Age of Discovery, featuring abundant maps, charts and illustrations, and a dramatic 19th-century work about an around-the-world excursion, which was written by the first blind person to circumnavigate the globe.


A New General Collection of Voyages and Travels (1745)

This four-volume tour de force details nearly all aspects of the Age of Discovery. Its subtitle proclaims it to include:

every Thing remarkable in its Kind, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, with respect to the several Empires, Kingdoms, and Provinces; their situation, extent, bounds and division, climate, soil and produce; their lakes, rivers, mountains, cities, principal towns, harbors, buildings, &c. and the gradual alterations that from Time to Time have happened in each: also the manners and customs of the several inhabitants; their religion and government, arts and sciences, trades and manufactures; so as to form a complete system of modern geography and history, exhibiting the present state of all nations…

The work introduces the Age of Discovery through the explorations of Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and Ferdinand Magellan:

A Violent Desire of Making Discoveries, or, The Passion for Traveling: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Bridges to the Past: Everything from the Cold War Is New Again

A left front view of a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft parked on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS AmericaSeveral weeks ago a Dutch investigation determined that a civilian airliner flying over contested Ukraine territory was brought down by a missile of Russian manufacture; Presidents Obama and Putin continue to spar over "deconfliction" in Syrian airspace. And Steven Spielberg's latest film, "Bridge of Spies," based upon the Soviets' downing of an American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft in May 1960, was released internationally. Is this art imitating life? Or it could be more as William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

In this month's highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we're going back to the future: Political prisoners. Electronic countermeasures. Confrontations on the German Autobahn. Let the credits roll: the Cold War's about to get hot. Again.


US-USSR Incident on the Berlin Autobahn

Muenchner Merkur (Munich Mercury) – 20 October 1963

If your commute was challenging this morning, at least you didn't have armored personnel carriers and spiked vehicle barriers blocking the roadway. In October 1963 an American military convoy traveling through East Berlin to West Germany encountered all that and more. Protests were filed. Ultimatums issued. There was talk of "misunderstandings" and "compromise," but also of "provocation" and "heavy undesirable consequences."

Bridges to the Past: Everything from the Cold War Is New Again

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