July 01, 2016

When a Book is More Than a Book

2016 is the fortieth anniversary of the release of Hedrick Smith’s pathbreaking book, The Russians. The first book to truly take readers behind the Iron Curtain and into the everyday lives of Russians, it soared to the top of The New York Times bestseller list and influenced a generation of Americans (and not only Americans) in their views on Russia. When Hedrick Smith came to Vermont in May to give a talk sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council, Russian Life Editor Paul Richardson sat down with him to talk about the book and its legacy.

Russian Life: Did you have any inkling when the book first came out that it was going to jump to the top of the bestseller list?

Hedrick Smith: Oh no. It was my first book, Christ. I didn’t even know if I could write a book. Seriously. I persuaded myself I could do it because I figured a book, a book was a hundred thousand words and I had written a bunch of New York Times Magazine pieces, which were typically 5,000 words, so I said I’ve got to write 20 pieces, right? That is not

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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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