Soviet Adventures in the Land of the Capitalists: Ilf and Petrov's American Road Trip by Lisa A. Kirschenbaum

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In 1935, two Soviet satirists, Ilia Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, undertook a 10,000 mile American road trip from New York to Hollywood and back accompanied only by their guide and chauffeur, a gregarious Russian Jewish immigrant and his American-born, Russian-speaking wife. They immortalised their journey in a popular travelogue that condemned American inequality and racism even as it marvelled at American modernity and efficiency. Lisa Kirschenbaum reconstructs the epic journey of the two Soviet funnymen and their encounters with a vast cast of characters, ranging from famous authors, artists, poets and filmmakers to unemployed hitchhikers and revolutionaries. Using the authors' notes, US and Russian archives, and even FBI files, she reveals the role of ordinary individuals in shaping foreign relations as Ilf, Petrov and the immigrants, communists, and fellow travellers who served as their hosts, guides, and translators became creative actors in cultural exchange between the two countries.