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During the McCarthy witch hunt years of the Cold War Era an interesting “propaganda” book If You Were Born in Russia was published in 1950. The writer Arthur Goodfriend wanted to open the eyes of the American public to various aspects of the lives of ordinary Soviet-Russian citizens, so he went on a tour of Russia and in 192 pages he writes about the lives and feelings of the “Russian“.

The book can be read in two ways: Extolling the virtues of the capitalist world to Americans who might have some doubt about it, as well as, “promoting the good aspects of the socialist sytem“. No matter how you read the book, the fact remains that it is one of the first books to use Sovphoto’s photos (an officially sanctioned Russian “Soviet” photo agency) for a very large portion of this “American” book, and as the title implies a cradle to grave look at the Russian way of life.

goodfriend rear coverSurprising or not the typography, the jacket, as well as, the overall book design were done by the brother of George Salter the lesser known Stefan Salter who had immigrated to the United States in the late 1920’s. Among the credits given on the last page to the various photographers whose photos were used in the making of the book is Life Magazine and Robert Capa.

A seminal “documentary” photo book with dust jacket now very rarely found.

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