Book Report: Red Plush and Black Beard (Condensed) by Marguerite Higgins (1955)

Book coverThis is a condensed, pamphlet-sized version of a longer book (which is $300 on Amazon if you search via Bing but $8 if you search on Amazon?) about Marguerite Higgins’s experience in the Soviet Union. It clocks in at 16 pages, and I probably got it in a bundle of chapbooks/pamphlets for a buck at a Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale some time ago. But I’m counting as a book I read regardless of the length.

At any rate, you don’t have to be a Russiaphile to know what she finds: Brutal architecture, primitive living, but a resilient and resigned people.

But enough about this little publication of the Good Reading Rack Service. It leads to a little wondering about the Good Reading Rack Service itself. The book has no price markings; what was the Good Reading Rack Service? Internet searches yield no history of the company but a boatload of entries from their series. Was it teaser giveaways for bookstores trying to sell the books themselves?

Also, how about Marguerite Higgins herself? A woman war correspondent who covered World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam along with being the bureau head in Moscow when she wrote Red Plush and Black Beard. Wow, that’s more interesting than what she had to say about Moscow in the middle 1950s.

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