9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An amazing book about the USSR, Tattoos and Prison,
This review is from: Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Volume II: v. II (Hardcover)This book cracks open a whole world that there really isn't an equivalent of elsewhere. It's a collection of photos and illustrations of prison tattos from soviet detention centres and an explaination of the iconic codes used in the images.
The illustrations are beautifully coppied with a hard and menacing style (if you're interested in cartooning, this book is a MUST) and it would be easy to forget to give credit to the illustrator because they are copies but you don't feel the same unity with the photos and it's the style that make the illustrations, with the often appauling interpretations so striking. There is a substantial introduction and a terrifying map of the Soviet Union covered in dots representing prison camps but most of what makes the book so exciting is the anecdotal chunks of information that accompany the illustrations that creates a world squalid and separate from anything in the outside world but as brutally structured with it's hierarchys and rules, illustrated by the tattoos.
In the west, the Soviet Union loomed large as a mysterious bogeyman until it began to collapse and now it's hard to sort out what was US propaganda to the point where it's almost forgotten as a concept in the west. This book, created from within the prison camps at that time is a living account of the most extreme aspect of that regime and also a study of political and antisocial defiance to that system from the hardest members of that society and is an immediate and metaphorical account in the form of these images.
In the west there was always the notion that Student protests and teenage rebellion couldn't happen where there was no freedom but put quiffs, long hair and rock n roll, against a subculture drawing Lenin over their hearts in the hopes that a firing squad wont shoot the picture, where obscene sex scenes involving devils and political figures are worn on the skin because it can't be confiscated and this brutal society turns western ideas of being rebelious and defiant on their heads.
Please reprint Volume One again.
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