Did this project present any particular challenges, and if so how were these overcome?
Initially the overall breadth of the project was daunting. At first we weren't sure how to tackle such varied material. Previously our Russian books had focussed on very particular subjects, purposefully disregarding anything extraneous. However, when we realised the material encompassed so many aspects of the Soviet experience, we understood that the extent of it was actually the most important feature, it reflected the period perfectly and became the reason for making the book.
The other challenge was on the editing side, in particular writing the footnotes. The process of translation and editing was a long one: some of the drawings were completely opaque – their meanings had been lost in the period between the fall of communism and now. This meant that simply reading a direct translation was meaningless. We used a number of sources (Russian friends, books and articles, etc) to reveal possible interpretations and made editorial decisions by corroborating these explanations.
The book took around two years to complete. When it was finished we realised there were many comparisons with current issues in Russia today: government corruption, drinking, dissent and race. The publication was not intended to coincide with anything in particular, although 2014 is the UK-Russia Year of Culture. However with Russia flexing its muscles in Crimea and demonstrators being shot on the streets of Kiev, the book is an apposite warning of the dangers of the 'Soviet-style' leadership Putin seems to favour.