For forty-five years after World War II an ‘iron curtain’ split Europe into West and East. This book is an account by a young Australian journalist of everyday life behind that curtain of mostly barbed wire in countries of the somewhat mysterious communist East, which were dominated by Soviet Russia.
In 1963 Robert Murray travelled impecuniously by train and bus through six of the soviet ‘satellites’. Over a language barrier he chatted with dozens of ordinary people and roamed around ancient towns and cities, some still not completely rebuilt after the war. These countries had not long been reopened to the world after the grim Stalinist years. Tourists were again welcome, and life was ‘liberal’ in a very limited way. ‘The Party’ ruled, its governments owned industry, most people were not allowed to travel to non-communist countries, read literature or listen to media originating outside the curtained-off limits.
The author’s manuscript was lost while seeking a publisher, but a tattered carbon copy turned up in family papers nearly sixty years later. As a reminder to readers of the period, he notes that his trip ended just a few weeks before the assassination in faraway America of President John F. Kennedy.