Western views of the Soviet Union tend to focus on the negative, and there's plenty negative to work with. Stalin was, after all, history's most terrible mass murderer. And no doubt one can think of many other (if lesser) Soviet era horrors without too much trouble. Such things should not be forgotten or excused.
But this was also the nation that took humanity into space for the first time, smashed the Nazis, industrialised from a standing start in a few decades and made huge contributions to science, art, music and sport. This book reminds us of those epic achievements through the official eyes of its propaganda. This does mean that the view is over positive. After a few chapters, one hopes for someone looking other than ecstatic, a building less than epic, a landscape less than stunning. But the weariness thus induced can teach us something about the nature of propaganda and for this alone the book would be valuable.
Photography was the Soviet ideal art form, embodying values of consistent, honest craftsmanship and an air of democracy absent from more unreliable, traditional bourgeois forms. Look at the troubles poets, composers and painters had with Stalin and Brezhnev.
This book demonstrates how much creativity and imagination was possible within a very prescriptive political system and for that it's an inspiration. I think it's this that makes it a must buy. The standard (technical and creative) is superb and it is a real joy to be introduced to such great work by photographers who were previously unknown to me, presented so sensitively. They really deserve the overdue celebration this book gives them.