My Soviet Youth

A Memoir of Ukrainian Life in the Final Years of Communism


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About the Book

Putting on gas masks and learning how to shoot Kalashnikov rifles in grade school made Soviet children fear possible attack by Cold War enemies. But a more prosaic invasion of Colorado beetles in the 1980s turned out to be a far more real threat to Soviet families. Many had to master farming when the state, near its demise, no longer had the finances to pay salaries. One of the last generation of Soviet teenagers who tasted the political restrictions and propaganda, and the benefits and deficits of the communist state, the author recalls her early years in a Soviet school, a Young Pioneer inauguration ceremony, work on a collective farm, her family’s plot of land and their fights against invasive insects, and her first breaths of post-Soviet freedom, which brought economic havoc and bitter disappointments, along with new hopes.

About the Author(s)

Irina Rodriguez grew up in the suburbs of Kharkiv, Ukraine, which was then a part of the Soviet Union. She came to study at the University of Kansas on an exchange scholarship in 1994. She is an affiliate instructor of modern languages at the University of Dallas, where she teaches Spanish, Italian and occasionally French. She lives in Dallas, Texas.

Bibliographic Details

Irina Rodríguez
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 225
Bibliographic Info: 62 photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7759-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3806-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface 1
Propaganda and Life 3
Teachers 15
Culture, Entertainment and Censorship 22
Parties and Holidays 52
More Celebrations and Home Life 67
Military Training and Shadows of the War 82
Community and Town 92
School Fears 110
Exams 121
Joys of Labor at the Soviet Schools 124
More About School 131
Living on Land 148
Extracurricular Activities 157
Death of a Leader 161
Healthcare 168
Bureaucracy 180
Turn to Democracy 188
The News 201
American Afterword 210
Chapter Notes 213
Index 215

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Impressively informative…fascinating…recommended”—Midwest Book Review