"My poor Soviet women," begins a paragraph in chapter four of Simona Pipko's new book Baltic Winds: Testimony of a Soviet Attorney. "Not only deprived of decent clothing but treated as second-class citizens. Overwhelmed with responsibility, they didn't have a moment for themselves… [they] spent hours…standing in long lines instead of being with their children. And all the domestic responsibilities came after a full workday, in a country with no appliances, no frozen food, no pre-cut meat."
Baltic Winds, a non-fiction work with an autobiographical bent, tells Ms. Pipko's sometimes gritty life story as a prominent Soviet defense attorney, as well as the stories of her family, friends, and clients living under oppressive totalitarian rule. Also of interest to readers is the story of captured American pilots in Gulag, discussions on terrorism, North Korea, Iraq, and the definition of "the Formula for Power."
Spanning the four decades between the 1950s and the 1990s, Baltic Winds reflects the lives of the characters on two continents, from Leningrad to Rome, and finally to New York. In the book's first section, "Mothers and Children," Ms. Pipko presents life in Russia, providing previously untold facts about the inner workings of communist Russia as well as first-hand accounts of different ethnic groups in Russia and the abominable conditions in which they lived. Though the book is dedicated to the people who survived Stalinism and the millions who did not, Ms. Pipko places particular emphasis on the struggles women still encounter in every day life: inferior status, abortion, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.
The second part of the book, "Years, People, Countries," follows the author's journey through Europe to America, detailing how immigration and university teaching positions have again brought the author close to people—this time Americans.