John Gunther's Inside Russia Today is the profile of a nation—part guidebook, part political primer, part intelligence report. Much of the vast mosaic of facts, impressions, statistics and insights will be familiar to well-informed readers, but the design is unique and uniquely Gunther's, and so are some of the brightest fragments:

The first physical impression I had of Russia, as we descended from the plane, was the quality of the metal ladder—flimsy, antique, short by half a step, and made of some queer light metal, ornately engraved. Dozens of times later, I saw similar...

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