Americans-looking-at-Russians-looking-at-Americans: The ‘USSR Report. USA: Economics, Politics, Ideology’ Series from JPRS

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In highlighting this month’s release of Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we shift our focus from monographs and shorter individual reports to a single series, USSR Report. USA: Economics, Politics, Ideology. This will allow us to indulge in the meta-perspective of Americans-looking-at-Russians-looking-at-Americans across a broad range of issues.

Along with the shift in focus, we’ll travel forward in time as well, from the 1960s of our most recent releases, to 1980. Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev was in the last years of his life, the Soviet Union had just invaded Afghanistan, and the economy stumbled along at the tail end of what has been called the Era of Stagnation.

Meanwhile, the United States was boycotting the Moscow Summer Olympics in protest against the Soviet-Afghan War, Ronald Reagan was elected President, and the Iran Hostage Crisis was fresh in the nation's memory. Three Mile Island was still hot. It wasn't quite “morning in America’ (from Reagan’s 1984 campaign), but the Reagan presidency hinted at resurgence. What did the Soviets make of that?


Shift to the Right—Imaginary and Real

SSHA: Ekonomika, Politika, Ideologiya, Moscow, No. 12, December 1979. 17 pages

Americans-looking-at-Russians-looking-at-Americans: The ‘USSR Report. USA: Economics, Politics, Ideology’ Series from JPRS

‘Very important, if true’: Lunar Quadrupeds, Biped Beavers, and Man-Bats

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Reports of life on the moon, first published in The Sun in late August 1835, were republished quickly by many New York-area newspapers. On August 27, 1835, the Newark Daily Advertiser reprinted an initial report quoting an alleged astronomer who claimed to have “beheld continuous herds of brown quadrupeds” on the surface of the moon. He continued:

The next animal we perceived would be classified on earth as a monster. It was of a bluish lead color, about the size of a goat, with a head and beard like him, and a single horn, slightly inclined forward from the perpendicular. The female was destitute of the horn and beard, but had a much longer tail. It was gregarious, and chiefly abounded on the acclivitous glades of the woods. In elegance of symmetry it rivalled the antelope, and like him it seemed an agile sprightly creature, running with great speed, and springing from the green turf with all the unaccountable antics of a young lamb or kitten. This beautiful creature afforded us the most exquisite amusement.

On August 29 the New York Evangelist provided additional reporting under the headline “Wonderful Astronomical Discoveries”:

The New-York Sun has for the last three days, 25th, 26th and 27th, electrified its readers by publishing extracts from the supplement to the last Edinburgh Journal of Science, giving an account of the wonderful discoveries recently made by Sir John Herschel, with his new and improved telescope, at the Cape of Good Hope.

‘Very important, if true’: Lunar Quadrupeds, Biped Beavers, and Man-Bats

Historian Paul Finkelman Provides New Context to U.S. Immigration Debate at Readex-Sponsored ALA Event [VIDEO]

We are a nation of immigrants, but sometimes it seems we forget that. Professor Paul Finkelman offered a stark reminder of this at the 2017 American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago, and attendees of his Readex-sponsored talk left with a fresh lens through which to view today’s immigration debate.

From Hollywood to Silicon Valley, from baseball stadiums to boardrooms, immigrants and their children enhance our daily lives and culture. Consider the contributions of Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Graham Bell and Albert Einstein. Immigrants, including Irving Berlin, Greta Garbo, Sophia Loren and Joe DiMaggio, have enriched our music, art, and entertainment. Think of the impact more recent innovations by immigrants—like the founding of Google and the creation of the Pentium Micro-Processor—have had on our world.

Ten percent of the first Congress was foreign-born, and immigrants continue to fill critical leadership roles in our government today.

“From the beginning to the present, immigrants and the children of immigrants have played a fairly significant role in American politics,” Finkelman said. “In the last half century we’ve had two Secretaries of State who were immigrants.”

Add to that a foreign-born Secretary of the Treasury and two ambassadors to the United Nations. As Dr. Finkelman noted, unless you are 100% Native American, you are of immigrants.

But how quickly, as a nation, we forget.

Since the late 19th century, the Statue of Liberty has symbolized freedom, standing as a welcoming beacon to millions of immigrants reaching America’s shore. The poem at the base of the statue, written by Emma Lazarus, declares: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddle masses yearning to breathe free.” 

Is the United States still a welcoming haven?

Historian Paul Finkelman Provides New Context to U.S. Immigration Debate at Readex-Sponsored ALA Event [VIDEO]

‘The Demagogue and His Recital of Imaginary Wrongs’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The June release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes unique accounts of the war by two Union surgeons and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.  


 

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Three Years in the Sixth Corps (1879)

By George Thomas Stevens

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George Thomas Stevens (1832-1921) served as a surgeon in the 77th Regiment of New York Volunteers. He draws on his own contemporaneous notes, official reports, and letters from officers to write “a concise narrative of events in the Army of the Potomac from 1861 to the close of the rebellion, April, 1865.”

Stevens describes his regiment’s march to Gettysburg, writing:

‘The Demagogue and His Recital of Imaginary Wrongs’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a clergyman’s critique of Thomas Jefferson’s candidacy for the presidency, a Quaker’s message to slave-owners, and an abolitionist’s speech from the floor of the House of Representatives.


 

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Serious Considerations on the Election of a President (1800)

By William Linn

Reverend William Linn (1752-1808) served as a chaplain in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and was the first Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives. Linn opposed Thomas Jefferson’s presidential run for religious reasons.

…my objection to his being promoted to the Presidency is founded singly upon his disbelief of the Holy Scriptures; or, in other words, his rejection of the Christian Religion and open profession of Deism.

Linn turns to Jefferson’s writings to prove he is not a Christian. Linn quotes Jefferson casting doubt on a global flood and making reference to an age of the earth greater than 6000 years. He then quotes Jefferson’s musings on various races of people and how they compared:

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Cooperatives and Cooperation: Highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995

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Two of the fundamental tenets of communism at the international level were that communist countries worked together to achieve their mutual ends, and that their economic and political development was peaceful rather than imperialistic.

From 1957 to 1960, as the dust settled from uprisings in Hungary and Poland, things were relatively tranquil within the Eastern Bloc. At a greater remove—and especially with regard to China—fraternal relationships and a unified front were a bit more difficult to maintain. Still, prior to 1960 the Sino-Soviet argument over communist “peaceful coexistence” with capitalist countries had not yet reached a critical point.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a few years off, the U2 Incident (May 1960) was just over the horizon, the echoes of Secretary Khrushchev’s 1956 threat to “bury” the West had largely subsided, and he had not yet pounded a UN podium with his shoe. So in this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we’ll witness communist countries generally playing nicely on the international stage.


The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, Charter and Convention

Vedomosti Verkovnogo Soveta Soyuza Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik (Gazette of the USSR Supreme Soviet), Moscow, Vol. XXIII No. 15, April 1960. 19 pages

Cooperatives and Cooperation: Highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995

‘To kill a man for rumple groans’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

The May release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes many exceptionally rare imprints. Among them are an illustrated early reader presenting the “inhabitants of the world,” a novella about virtue rewarded, and a comic account of a clever Scotsman who entertained and defied King James VI.


 

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Inhabitants of the World, Alphabetically Arranged (1818)

 

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This imprint was donated to the American Antiquarian Society by James d’Alté Aldridge Welch (1907-1970) who was a noted collector of early American children’s books and who published bibliographies of this genre. One of the extremely rare works he donated to the society, “Inhabitants of the World” has an entry for each letter of the alphabet. Every entry has a handsome illustration and a brief description. Naturally, we begin with A.

African

Though much oppressed, and slaves to many nations, yet they are laborious, forbearing, and ingenious.

‘To kill a man for rumple groans’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

Four New Bookmarks and Posters Available for Readex Collections

For libraries looking to create awareness and increase usage of their Readex collections, we have created four new sets of posters and bookmarks to support those goals. 

The artwork for each of these items may now be individually downloaded for local printing.  To download artwork for one or more of the four posters seen immediately below, please contact the Readex marketing department. To download bookmark artwork, please click on the links below the posters.

For African American Newspapers

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For Caribbean Newspapers

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For Early American Imprints

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And for Early American Newspapers

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Four New Bookmarks and Posters Available for Readex Collections

The Russia Connection: Historical Proposals to Reestablish a Land Link across the Bering Strait

There’s general agreement that as recently as 11,000 years ago the Asian and North American continents were connected by a land bridge over which hominids and other animals crossed. Today, the Bering Strait is only about 50 miles wide at its narrowest point, and less than 200 feet deep.

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Two small islands are situated midway between the continental land masses. Big Diomede Island belongs to Russia; Little Diomede Island belongs to the United States. The islands are separated by approximately two miles—and the International Date Line.

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For reference, the English Channel, between the United Kingdom and France, is about 20 miles wide and similar in depth to the Bering Strait. An undersea tunnel was proposed there during the 19th century, and has since been completed. The Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean, was built in 1869. The Panama Canal was completed in 1914. In keeping with these ambitious projects, some structure across or beneath the Bering Strait has long been suggested as both practical and possible.

The Russia Connection: Historical Proposals to Reestablish a Land Link across the Bering Strait

The Culture of Communism: Highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995

State_Emblem_of_the_Soviet_Union_svg.pngSo much of communism is given over to building more and better widgets—collectively, of course, according to a centralized plan stretching over a number of years. Beyond the tractors and satellites, it’s worth noting that the communists were also building their people by exercising strict control over the national culture. Indeed, the real flavor of communism can more readily be experienced through its cultural expressions rather than its production schedules.

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we’ll explore popular culture, religion, psychology and the communist approach to enforcing orthodoxy in all of the above.


Radio and Television—The Weapons of the Party

Kommunist (Communist), Moscow, No. 5, March 1960. 18 p.

Don’t look for independent journalism here, this is sled-dog journalism—no time for reactionary excursions, and everybody pulling in a line—the party line. And no child is left behind with youth programming about tractor operators, industrial brigades, and the series “Follow the Example of the Communists.” Consider the title of this report: a political elite wielding mass media—as a weapon against the heterodox members of its own social order.


Peculiarities of the Development of Literature in Socialist Countries

Kommunist (Communist), Moscow, No. 12, August 1959. 17 p.

The Culture of Communism: Highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995

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