New Republic Updates John Steinbeck and Robert Capa’s Russian Journal in Pictures


Like John Steinbeck’s 1940 expedition to Baja, California with the marine biologist Ed Ricketts, his 1947 trip to Russia with the war photographer Robert Capa yielded a book that reveals as much about the relationship of the co-authors as it does about the subject. Like Ricketts, Steinbeck’s collaborator in writing Sea of Cortez, Capa was Steinbeck’s boon companion and opposite, equally accomplished and adventurous but lighter on his feet and better with women and strangers. A photo essay published this week in New Republic, 70 years after the publication of A Russian Journal, displays a selection of Capa’s black-and-white images next to color photos taken by Thomas Dworzak when he and Julius Strauss recapped the trip recorded in A Russian Journal to show how Russia has changed since 1947. Steinbeck enjoyed the company of everyday Russians, who weren’t that different from Americans when encountered face-to-face. He also enjoyed Robert Capa, as shown in Capa’s photo of Steinbeck looking at their reflection, a mirror of the relationship revealed in A Russian Journal.

Photograph by Robert Capa courtesy International Center of Photography/Magnum.

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