Was the Russia we grew up fearing truly a monster in disguise, or acountry struggling through various leaders and methods to find itself?Russian Experiences: Life in the Former USSR and Post-Soviet Russia isan eye opening discovery of the true Russia. The Russia of the'suburbs'; the Russia of the common worker; the Russia of the strugglingfamily. No political grandstanding in this book, no. This is a story ofits people. It's heart and soul.
Unless one went through it, experienced it, and lived it, one can'tever really know. But a man known as 'The Raven' lived through it, andwith the help of co-writer Marie Claire, he tells his story of growingup in this Russia to the world. But 'Russian Experiences' is so muchmore than just a story, a riveting story of trial and labor, and ofrebirth. It is, in its essence, a moving and dramatic tale of one man'squest for freedom; not just in a physical sense, but an emotional one aswell.
The Raven was born into a period of turmoil. The economy was poor, evento the point of many teetering on the brink of privation. Propereducation and training for many jobs and positions in the medical fieldwas below standard and proper supplies, not only those needed for basicliving, but more important, medical supplies were sadly lacking as well.No luxuries of supermarkets, shopping malls, fashion stores and privatetransportation. Because of a lack of proper medical facilities and care,The Raven suffered a hearing loss accompanied by a speech impediment asa young child, thereby forcing him from early childhood to deal withprejudice because of his handicap. For decades, the Russian ideal ofperfection allowed no compassion for those suffering from physical oremotional handicaps, almost an 'Out of sight, out of mind' mentality.And so, 'The Raven' was practically ignored, existing without reallyexisting in the eyes of society.
The Raven grew up in Baku City, the capital of Azerbaijan. His lifethere was by no means easy, and compared to standards most Americanstake for granted, at or near what could be considered the poverty level.Because of the conflicts and recurring strife between native Armeniansand Azerbaijan natives, he and his brother were unable to attend schoolfor long stretches of time.
Ultimately, The Raven and his family left Baku, where they had livedall their lives, to move to a region around Moscow where The Raven andhis family hoped for a better life, a better opportunity for educationand employment. There The Raven continued his education, yet even on theoutskirts of Moscow The Raven struggled to gain the education hedesired, one that would enable him to rise above the poverty andnarrow-mindedness of many of Russia's inhabitants. Despite aninterrupted education, growing political strife and military tensions,The Raven pursued his goals and ultimately achieved his degree.