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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2016

Robert R. Kracke Book Reviews Walnuts on My Bookshelf, Memories of Living in Communist Russia, 1952-1991, By Peter Kirchikov, Printed by Rocky Heights Print and Binding, Pelham, AL, 168 pp. Peter Kirchikov is a paralegal in a local law firm who immigrated from Russia with the help of the wife of a Birmingham physician, Kay Savage, who sponsored Mr. Kirchikov in gaining his “liberation” from communist Russia. It was also through his contact with the University of Alabama in Birmingham that “Visa formalities for our entire family had been approved and we could flaunt the Soviet exit procedure and finally my family and I would get a chance to get out of the Soviet Union.” Also mentioned in his fascinating book about life in Russia before 1991 was the assistance he received from a Rotary friend of this reviewer, Carol Argo, who is the former Assistant Director of the UAB Center for International Programs. Today, Mr. Kirchikov is not only a published writer but a translator and interpreter of English, Russian, Bulgarian and Ukranian languages and is a certified immigration interpreter. He describes, with photographs, the difficult life he and his family experienced while living in and growing up in Soviet Russia. One short excerpt describes Russian living as follows, “In rural areas Russian homes did not have bathtubs or showers; rather, bathing was done in a community bath house which was owned by the government.” He goes on to describe the difficult living conditions including how one does laundry, how one must have rubber knee-high boots, the house he grew up in, the animals and vegetables consumed by the average Russian, and other political and bureaucratic nightmares. He also describes the difficult adjustment that he had to make, and the culture shock he experienced upon coming to America. Of course, his first visit to a supermarket was unbelievable to him. This reviewer and his wife visited St. Petersburg and were amused by our Russian guide’s preview description of the wonderful new department store on the outskirts of St. Petersburg: it had a parking lot and cash registers, and, everything! When we saw it, it was nothing more than a rundown, dilapidated K-mart. This was after 1991. The St. Petersburg that we saw was drab, ordinary, mean-spirited (the guides in the Hermitage Museum were downright nasty) and nobody smiled. You might enjoy this memoir written by someone who has seen the bad (Soviet Union) and the good (America). G Editor Robert R. Kracke be worth fifty billion dollars apiece. Their annual income is estimated to be one billion dollars per year. This book alleges that they give away about forty percent of that billion which only leaves six hundred million for each to live on year in and year out. Their father was one of the founders of the John Birch Society and they have inherited that political philosophy which is technically called classical liberalism (look it up). This reviewer was shocked to learn that classical liberalism is really self-dependence with no interference by the government in one’s affairs. It began with the works of John Locke and others who asserted that the less intrusion by government in the affairs of the people produces not only a better economy but a more productive one. Today, that political philosophy has evolved into the Tea Party movement in America. David Koch lives in New York City and Charles Koch lives in Topeka, Kansas. They don’t necessarily have the self-effacing humble attitude that Warren Buffet appears to have for they both enjoy life and its wealth gloriously but quietly. The purpose of this review is not to influence the reader one way or the other concerning politics but to merely bring to the attention of the readers a book which must be read with discretion recognizing that its author is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. Therefore, there is obviously a literary and political axe to grind here. However, if you are interested in how big bucks are made and spent, you will enjoy certain portions of this long narrative about conservative politics in America. You will even learn that there are really four Koch brothers, two of which were bought out by David and Charles, and you will also learn about the litigation that lasted for many, many years but was finally resolved not to the satisfaction of the brothers bought out by David and Charles. Reading about the litigation alone will warm the cockles of a lawyer’s heart with the attendant fees expended year after year attempting to undo the buyout. It is fascinating reading in places and boring in others, but after all, it has an index and the reader can pick and choose which portions to read. In the present day political climate in America the reader will wonder whether the Koch brothers get involved in the 2016 presidential election. So far, they have been on the sidelines, but, with huge contributions to members and candidates for Congress. This book seems to partially explain the history of the world as it pertains to the struggle between the haves and the have nots. Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Fall 2016 29


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2016
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