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

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