Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review: I Change Worlds: The Remaking of an American by Anna Louise Strong

Title: The Remaking of an American
Author: Anna Louise Strong
Format: Hardcover
Publish Date: 1935
Source: Library

My Two Cents:

"I Change Worlds" is the memoir of Anna Louise Strong, an American who left the country to go live in the Soviet Union because it aligned with her ideals. She has a very idealized view of the changes brought in the 1920s and 1930s in the Soviet Union. Being an American born in the waning years of the Cold War, this was such an interesting perspective to read about. 

Even after the Cold War, the idea that people would leave the relative comfort of the United States for the Soviet Union is strange - this isn't what we typically focus on or even mention in history classes. Our history classes still seem to have a fairly rose-colored view of our country without accounting for many differing opinions. This book is one of those differing opinions. Strong is initially very hopeful for the improvement of working conditions in the USSR. She witnesses Stalin's various plans to shake various countries into production and growth. It was fascinating to see her perspective on what was going on.

Strong is also a journalist and her job takes her places that were not necessarily open to women or Americans at the time. It shed a lot of light on what it would have been like to be a person living during this time. She has some really interesting experiences in the book. At one point, she goes back to the U.S. to have conversations with Henry Ford about investing in the USSR (I did not ever realize that the USSR was so interested in investment. She talks about the American companies that would or would not invest in the USSR (it's a fascinating list. Ford entertained it. House of Morgan refused)! She also gets to meet directly with Stalin after making a complaint about her work and in the book, she calls him one of the easiest people in the world to talk to (but was he really??? that's not ever a description I've heard associated with Stalin). 

I love when books make you question what you do and do not know. This book gave a perspective that I never had thought about before and definitely made me think about just how different points of view can really be!


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