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Cold War, 1950s-1970s

Grigorii Shur. Sud lincha: Orudie amerikanskoi reaktsii [Lynching: Instrument of American Reactionism]. Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo iuridicheskoi literatury, 1950.

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Sud lincha: Orudie amerikanskoi reaktsii [Lynching: Instrument of American Reactionism], 1950, front cover

This book gives a history of lynching in the United States through the lenses of fascism versus communism and imperialism versus democracy. Shur describes the United States as “the centre of fascist ideology and wild racist ‘theories’” but also sees American workers as increasingly inspired by “the people of the Soviet Union” to fight “against racial discrimination and lynching and for civil rights, authentic democracy, and peace.”

Civil Rights Congress. My obviniaem v genotside [We Charge Genocide]. Translated by Il’ya Ehrenburg. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo inostrannoi literatury, 1952.

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My obviniaem v genotside [We Charge Genocide], 1952, front cover

In December 1951, the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) charged the government of the United States with genocide and petitioned the United Nations for support. It was translated into Russian by Il’ya Ehrenburg, a Soviet Jewish author whose work included compiling the Black Book, which detailed anti-Jewish crimes during the Second World War. In the foreword to his translation, Ehrenburg likens the racism and violence that Black Americans experience to the Nazis’ hatred of Jews, writing that the “memory of Nazi crimes” should make readers of all nations concerned about the oppression of Black people. Reactions to We Charge Genocide revealed the role of race in the Cold War. Ehrenburg describes racism as an integral part of the “American way of life.” By contrast, the American media focused on the CRC’s communist affiliations to try to discredit the petition, and Raphael Lemkin, the coiner of the term “genocide,” accused the CRC of writing the petition to distract attention from genocides in the Soviet Union.

Victor Perlo (1912-1999). Negry v sel’skom khoziaistve iuga SShA [The Negro in Southern Agriculture]. Translated by Ol’ga Georgievna Klesmet. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo inostrannoi literatury, 1954.

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Negry v sel’skom khoziaistve iuga SShA [The Negro in Southern Agriculture], 1954, front cover

Victor Perlo, the chief economist for the Communist Party of the United State of America, wrote at least seven books that were translated into Russian. In his preface to this translation, Vasilii Solodovnikov writes that the book presents the “true picture of the terrible conditions” that Black Americans in the South face and acquaints readers with the “‘American way of life,’ which official propaganda presents as the image of democracy and freedom.” The translation was published by Foreign Literature Publisher, which was founded in 1946 with the aim of increasing the translation and publication of foreign academic works in the Soviet Union.

Gennadii Vasil’ev. Neboskreb v razreze [A Skyscraper Dissected]. Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1970.

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Neboskreb v razreze [A Skyscraper Dissected], 1970, front cover

Genadii Vasil’ev was a Soviet foreign correspondent who wrote multiple books about his impressions of the United States. A Skyscraper Dissected, which takes its title from a poem by Vladimir Maiakovskii, portrays the “sharp political and social contradictions” that divided the U.S. These divisions are illustrated by photos contrasting the white sandstone and marble Capitol building and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. with nearby tent encampments and destruction caused by police and soldiers crushing protests in predominantly Black neighbourhoods. In contrast to Waldemar Bogoras’ account of his travels in the U.S., Vasil’ev’s work is more conversational, focusing on his impressions of and discussions with local people.

Igor Aleksandrovich Geevshii (1919–2002). SSh’a: negritianskaia problema: politika vashintona v negritianskom voprose (1945-1972 gg.) [USA: the Negro problem: Washington’s policy on the Negro question (1945-1972)] Moscow: Izdatel’stvo nauka, 1973.


SSh’a: negritianskaia problema: politika vashintona v negritianskom voprose (1945-1972 gg.) [USA: the Negro problem: Washington’s policy on the Negro question (1945-1972)], 1973, front cover

This book discusses the politics of the Black community’s rights in post-war United States. Geevshii analyzes the role of African Americans’ fight for equality in the internal politics of the U.S. and preelection campaigning. He further elaborates on the conditions of Black people, the important steps toward their liberation, and the programs and activities of their leaders and organizations.

The book presents the question of Black liberation as one related to all spheres of American life: economic, political, ideological, and psychological. It affirms the influence of this issue on all matters of social relationships in the U.S. and ties it to the global democratic community concerned with the fate of African Americans.

It further exemplifies the ideological tensions at the time between the Soviet Union and the U.S. as the book ties the racist oppression of Black people in the U.S. to the development of American capitalism. The very nature of the exploitative bourgeois state makes authentic political equality of nations and races and the ideological friendship of nations impossible to attain.

The author sets on to expose bourgeois history and official U.S. propaganda, which distort the underlying motives of the American government and Congress toward the Black community. He aims to debunk the idea that American state measures eliminated racist discrimination in the socio-economic sphere and put in place comprehensive measures for the formal equality for all.

Alina Polikarpovna Koroleva. 20 millionov protiv Dzhima Krou (Negritianskoie dvizhenie v SSha na sovremennom etape) [20 million against Jim Crow (Present Stage of the Negro movement in the USA)]. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Mysl,’ 1967.

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20 millionov protiv Dzhima Krou (Negritianskoie dvizhenie v SSha na sovremennom etape) [20 million against Jim Crow (Present Stage of the Negro movement in the USA], 1967, front cover

The book discusses the fight of twenty million Black people and American progressive forces against racism. The author delves into the fight against racial discrimination during the 1950s and 1960s, the various organizations and leaders that led this movement, and the question of this pressing fight at the Supreme Court and Congress. It aims for readers to understand why the present struggle is called a Black revolution in the United States.

The book exemplifies Soviet critique by setting in sharp contrast American pro-democracy with its tolerance for Jim Crow-inspired oppression domestically. The argument concludes by iterating how the myth of American liberty and democracy has been destroyed as American imperialism has become known. The book sets the Black struggle for liberation and equality in the context of the greater global fight to undermine the capitalist system.

Protiv rasizma [Against Racism]. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo nauka, 1966.

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Protiv rasizma [Against Racism], 1966, front cover

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Protiv rasizma [Against Racism], 1966, title page.

The book comprises essays written by Soviet scholars of ethnography, history, and economics. It deals with questions of race: whether race can be considered a social category, whether racism always occurs, and under what circumstances it can be eliminated.

The articles included in this volume explore racism in anthropology, the sociological aspect of the biological understanding of race, the oppression of Black people in the United States, and the strengthening fight for liberation.

A special article deals with the attitude of the communist movement toward the fight for the equality of Black people. The book further analyzes the question of Black people in socialist Cuba, the colonizing oppression of Africans in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and discrimination against people of colour in England and Canada.

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Book blurb in French and English