If you were traversing the Soviet Union it was better to be caught with a kilo of cocaine than a book. Let alone a book in English.
‘Worst of all are the books. What a curse to be traveling with a book! You could be carrying a suitcase of cocaine and keep a book on top of it. The cocaine wouldn’t arouse the least bit of interest; all the customs inspectors would throw themselves upon the book. And what – God forbid! – if you’re carrying a book in English? Then the real running, checking, paging through, reading would begin.’
Source: Imperium, Ryszard Kapuscinski, trans. Klara Glowczewska (New York: Vintage International, 1995), p. 24
Photo credit: Erwan Hesry, unsplash.com