Submitter: Out of date and a B&W format. What could be more appealing in a YA book? I am loathe to buy hardcover contemporary biographies because they are out of date by the time they hit library shelves. This book circulated once, twenty years ago, and most likely it was for the required biography book report. My library also has another title in the series on Anwar Sadat. They are both going to book purgatory. From the collection of [a] middle school.
Holly: This book was published in 1986, before any of the most important aspects of Gorbachev’s career as a world leader happened. It’s perfectly reasonable for a middle school library to have a book about Gorbachev, but it should really tell the whole story of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Fun facts: Gorbachev appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial in 1997, and also recorded an album of Russian ballads in 2009. (Source)
Submitter: To be honest, “Who’s Who” books are always something I’ve regarded as being somewhat irrelevant in the first place, but the fact that it’s so laughably out-of-date, on leaders of a country that no longer exists, just makes it all the better. One of the things I love about this book is that scientists and people in the arts get some of the longest entries, while party officials largely receive only a few lines of text. Interestingly a Google search turns up the following link related to Zhukov, which is supposed to come originally from the “Great Soviet Encyclopedia” from 1979 and is almost identical to this entry [below]. Assuming these entries are largely based on information gleaned from publications such as the “Great Soviet Encyclopedia” some of this information is probably not entirely accurate, or at the very least very out of date. So it may be time to weed this book from the reference section.
Holly: Yup, it’s time.
Submitter: Russia is a big topic in the news right now, so I’m sure there are people looking for books about it. My public library has a massive section on Russian history and politics…nearly all of it from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The biggest gem was this book predicting that the USSR would be destroyed in a nuclear war with China. Even the books about earlier Soviet history are hopelessly out of date. In the past 25 years, we’ve gained access to all kinds of sources that weren’t available during the Cold War. Go update your Russian history sections now, comrades!
Holly: But it’s historical! Just kidding.