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After your subscription, you will start receiving your illustrated installments of the Soviet ABC into your mailbox, one new chapter every three days.


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    Chapter 1. A — Army

    The Soviet system in miniature.

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    Chapter 2. B — Blat and Bribes

    The ultimate skill you need to develop for success in the Soviet Union.

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    Chapter 3. C — Clothes

    How to look impressive, when you don’t even know what “designer brands” are.

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    Chapter 4. D — Dwelling

    How to get a place to live in a country where there is no real estate market.

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    Chapter 5. E — Enemies

    Who the scoundrels planning to destroy our glorious Soviet system are and where to find them.

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    Chapter 6. F — Food

    Improve your social status by treating your guests with food and drink that is not meant for consumption by mere mortals.

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    Chapter 7. G — Gulag

    Slavery and official human trafficking—the Soviet way.

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    Chapter 8. H — Health

    How to fight a common cold using potatoes, a potted aloe plant and suction cups.

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    Chapter 9. I — Industry

    The amazing story of a backward, agrarian country that made a huge leap forward and put a man in space before everybody else.

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    Chapter 10. J — Job

    Top five official and unofficial dream jobs in the Soviet Union.

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    Chapter 11. K — KGB

    The top predator in the Soviet ecosystem.

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    Chapter 12. L — Leaders

    Leaders. Lenin the savior, Stalin his god-like high priest and other saints and idols of the Soviet pantheon.

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    Chapter 13. M — Money

    Money. Why blue-collars should be paid more than doctors and lawyers, and where you should invest your money if you have found hidden treasure or won the lottery.

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    Chapter 14. N — National Holidays

    Christmas trees but no Christmas, October Revolution Day celebrated in November, and other oddities.

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    Chapter 15. O — Outcasts

    Who are the people embarrassing Soviet society?

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    Chapter 16. P — Party

    Five reasons why you should join the Communist Party by hook or by crook, if you are going to succeed in life.

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    Chapter 17. Q — Queues

    Your Soviet shopping experience in a nutshell.

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    Chapter 18. R — Religion

    How to practice religion in a godless state (or how to find a proper substitute that works almost as well).

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    Chapter 19. S — Sex

    There is no such a word in Russian language but the phenomenon does exist.

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    Chapter 20. T — Travel

    The best places to visit in the Soviet Union and how to get there.

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    Chapter 21. U — Urbanization

    The global process that created the USSR.

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    Chapter 22. V — Vodka

    How to make friends, avoid work like the plague, feel manly and die young.

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    Chapter 23. W — War

    The collective trauma that explains a lot about the way Soviets think.

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    Chapter 24. X — Xenophobia

    Popular beliefs about everybody who is not Russian.

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    Chapter 25. Y— Youth

    How to be a great achiever or a great disappointment before you turn twenty-five.

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    Chapter 26. Z — Zombie-propaganda

    What true Soviets must believe, what they are allowed to believe, and what they shouldn’t even think about.


My name is Elvira Baryakina and I am an author writing historical novels about the USSR, the country of my birth which no longer exists.

To me, the Soviet Union is like an extinct prehistoric beast, terrifying yet fascinating. I remember it when it was alive—I belong to the last generation of Soviet kids and experienced all the wonders that this regime had to offer.

Today, I live in Southern California, with my husband and son. I teach creative writing, write books, and hunt down and reimagine stories about the Soviet empire’s meteoric rise and dramatic downfall.

Elvira Baryakina