Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ten Days that Shook the World by John Reed

Week by week food became scarcer. The daily allowance of bread fell from a pound and a half to a pound, then three quarters, half, and a quarter-pound. Toward the end there was a week without any bread at all. Sugar one was entitled to at the rate of two pounds a month-if one could get it at all, which was seldom. A bar of chocolate or a pound of tasteless candy cost anywhere from seven to ten rubles-at least a dollar. There was milk for about half the babies in the city; most hotels and private houses never saw it for months. In the fruit season apples and pears sold for a little less than a ruble apiece on the street-corner....

For milk and bread and sugar and tobacco one had to stand in "queue" long hours in the chill rain. Coming home from an all-night meeting I have seen the "kvost" (tail) beginning to form before dawn, mostly women, some with babies in their arms.... Carlyle, in his "French Revolution," has described the French people as distinguished above all others by their faculty of standing in "queue." Russia had accustomed herself to the practice, begun in the reign of Nicholas the Blessed as long ago as 1915, and from then continued intermittently until the summer of 1917, when it settled down as the regular order of things. Think of the poorly-clad people standing on the iron-white streets of Petrograd whole days in the Russian winter! I have listened in the bread-lines, hearing the bitter, acrid note of discontent which from time to time burst up through the miraculous goodnature of the Russian crowd....more...


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