Bears in the Streets

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“Lisa Dickey has chosen an inspired way to tell a most fascinating story about the evolution of modern Russia. Bears in the Streets is brilliant, real and readable.”

―former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

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In the fall of 1995, Lisa Dickey traveled across the whole of Russia, interviewing people from all walks of life in 11 different cities—from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg.

In 2005, she made the entire trip again, interviewing all the same people to find out how their lives had changed.

In 2015, she made the trip yet again, interviewing the same people, now 20 years after first meeting them, to find out how life in Russia has changed. In January 2017, St. Martin’s Press released her book about these three trips. Titled Bears in the Streets:  Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia, it is a nuanced, deeply researched look at the lives and beliefs of ordinary Russians over time.

What’s really happening in Russia? U.S. media coverage of Russia focuses relentlessly on politics, economics and Vladimir Putin. But a quarter-century after the fall of the USSR, how do Russians live? What do they talk about, think about, believe in? Russia is one of the most fascinating, dynamic and important countries on earth, but we know surprisingly little about the people who live there.

As in the acclaimed British documentary series Seven Up!, Lisa Dickey has been interviewing the same eclectic group of people for years. From the caretakers of a lighthouse in Vladivostok, to the Jewish community of Birobidzhan, to a farmer in Buryatia, to a group of gay friends in Novosibirsk, to a wealthy “New Russian” family in Chelyabinsk, to a rap star in Moscow, she has charted people’s changes in attitudes, beliefs and opinions over time.

She has also explored the dramatic changes in everything from technology to social norms, witnessing firsthand the evolution of Russia from its post-Soviet shellshock days to the present. And she has 20 years’  worth of fantastic photographs, including many by photographers Gary Matoso and David Hillegas, illustrating not only how Russian cities have changed, but how the people she interviewed have personally changed over time.