By Ilya Galak
“We are not better than native-born Americans, and of course not smarter. We’ve just been to the last stop of this bus” – Sergei Dovlatov
Jake Danishevsky was born in the Former Soviet Union and came here when he was 13.5 years of age. Jake has education and experience in Software Engineering. His book is a contribution to the American people and everyone, who either does understand, but not to the degree of severity or doesn’t understand that socialism in any shape or form can not be undone. Once you implement that system and that mentality, it becomes a society of everyone being equal…. equally miserable and his book emphasizes that. He also talks about how being Jewish in the all ‘equal’ society, that is atheist to say the least, can still be very difficult and even dangerous. His political memoir is to warn people, make them aware of the fact that a failed society can not be done better, just because we are American.
Jake, please tell us a bit about your book and what you hope readers take away from reading it?
First of all, thank you for allowing me to speak out and giving me an opportunity to say a few words to your readers. My only hope for this memoir is to open some minds. Maybe even change some of the ways that people perceive socialism. I am not talking about those who know what it is already and just confirm that they were right, by reading my book, but I am talking about those who never thought about the tragedy behind socialism, the problems with such system that it destroys a society and by far not a better way of making everyone equal. The only equal society is the one where people are not forced to live a certain way and it has never been done through socialism. I just hope to change at least one mind and that would mean the world to me.
How did you come up with the title?
It is a great questions and the one that I like to discuss with people. A while back, in 2004, my wife published a book called “Tastes and Tales from Russia”. It is a brilliant combination of tasty Russian recipes, interesting folklore tales and some Russian art. I assisted her with the formatting of her book and also with the title. When I was ready to decide on what to name my book, I thought that taking something that already makes sense and worked, something that I was also involved in and at the same time be a little humorous, but yet ironic, would be somewhat clever. My point was that once we left Soviet Union, I always had this bad after taste about that society, plus my child hood stories to boost and there was the title “AfterTastes and Tales Russia”. The second portion of my book was to be a bit clever as well, since socialism is being used as a friendly term in some circles now, which by far is not something that anyone would want to mesmerize about. Since I don’t mesmerize or take socialism well in any conversation, the second part of the book is about that statement and my outlook about the failed theory of socialism, and never a reality. There came the name of the title, which is: “AfterTastes and Tales from Russia (Forgive me for being anti Social…ism)”.
What childhood influences shaped the person you became as an adult?
One of the biggest influences as the man I have become was and still is my father. I always wanted to be a man that my dad is. I want and always wanted to live my life as honest to myself as possible. If you are honest to yourself, then you have no problem being honest to others with your values or your beliefs. My dad is truly a man that I always looked up to and still always do. At times, I had to question myself in certain situations how would my dad handle it or react to it and tried to do the same to my best ability. I also have a few friends whom I grew up with and they have shaped my life very much, while we were kids and even now, by actions or advice. Politically, my biggest admiration is to Ronald Reagan. I came to America in 1979 and a few months later Mr Reagan became our President. I admired him as a President, politician, but even more so as a man, someone who had values and always made decisions based on those values. I quote him a lot and that’s the reason why. Finally and lately, my biggest influences are my wife and my kids. You never know how and where you can learn, and even though my kids are young, they have something to teach me and the others. I draw a lot of creative influence from them and also the fact that they encourage me, and support me in everything that I do.
When did your interest in politics start?
I always liked politics, but never thought of myself as an enthusiast or an activist. There was a time that I kept it very simple, just to make sure that I can see the difference between two parties, two candidates and somewhat understand when I voted. I admired Reagan, so to me the decision to become a registered Republican was easy. I saw this as educated guess based on one principle and nothing else at the time. I based it on the fact that Republicans created environment for everyone to have an opportunity to succeed and Democrats created environment to encourage people not to. That was my choice at the time and that was the only way I saw politics. I also felt bad, that the President that I admired the most, I was never able to vote for even once. I became a citizen of the United States in around 1986 and Reagan was already in the office for his second term. I seriously and truly became involved around 2000 on. Not that I just watched the news or paid attention, but I started to really get deeper in the meat of things, sort of speak. I started to pay attention at the good and the bad decisions in politics, why they were made, were there political or personal reasons behind various politicians’ choices and how those people addressed various situations. By the time 2008 came around, I was head over heels deep in political discussions and my active opinions, debates and anywhere I could speak to people about what I see and what we are facing, because it started to scare me, it started to display to me where we are heading and remind me of that Soviet nation we left behind. I became very involved and very informed on what I need to understand, and to educate others in my views, my background and what I needed to explain to people. That is when the thought of writing a book actually came about, in around 2011, when I said to my family that I need to let people know and spread my message through some sort of delivery system, a vehicle, my book.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part was to step away from my manuscript for about a month. I was very close to the project and at some point I was not sure whether the information that I was typing into my computer was actually making sense. Not to me, but to someone who is going to read it for the first time. Since I was already typing for a few months, literary every single day, I needed to step away, force myself not to look at it long enough to become an outsider to my own project, and that is what I did. I used the opportunity to ask my wife to edit the book, by reading it and correcting some of the items, but not the meaning of course, while I did not set foot in our home office, to make sure that I can get back later and read it, sort of for the first time. That part was probably the toughest in the whole process. To come back to your own work as an outsider is probably the toughest, but yet very important part of the process.
Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
My cover is all me, except for a little formatting that was done, and I have to admit better, by the Publisher, but the art work, the pictures is all me. I wanted to have a book which right of the bat does a few things. You know there is a saying “Don’t judge the book by its cover”? Well, most of the time, we do judge the book by its cover in everything that we do. Whether it is people, situations or in this case, it is a book, so I wanted to make people understand what the book is about through letting them judge it by its cover.
- There is an American Flag in the background of the entire book. That is to show the significance of my love for our nation and to show to the readers that it is the main topic of any Patriotic book as far as I am concerned.
- There is a crossed out Soviet land. I wanted to make it by hand, crossed out and just disregard that form of society. That land that left a bad after taste in my soul and that nation that we would never want to model our society after.
- Then there is a picture of a little boy in black and white. Since it is a memoir of a boy’s life, in the former Soviet Union, where the color photography was almost inexistent, I wanted to make a regular picture in Black & White, but the picture is of my son. My son, besides looking like me at the same age, is a heart of our family. He is an incredible child with a light spectrum of autism and I knew that this would make him happy, not to mention that he was a great support and inspiration for this project. I thought about my kids and their future, when I decided to help save this nation. I thought of putting both kids on the cover, but since the book is about me, I thought it would be cute and clever to put a boy, who looks like me, in black and white, but with a little twist. If anyone pays attention to that picture, they will pick up that it could never be a child from former Soviet Union at that time and in that society on my book’s cover. I can give you a hint, but don’t want to give it away for your readers to take a little time to guess….. a certain item of clothing would have never been available in soviet society then. <<WINK>>
Do you see writing as a career?
I am not sure yet. I started to like to write more and actually am working on my second book, which will also be on politics and my analysis, comparisons to some of the items, but would I like to do it for a living yet? Probably! I love doing it, but I also like speaking to people, so perhaps combing the two would be something of an interest to me. Being a professional in the field of software development and software engineering, I have done development, analysis and management of computer related systems and have been very successful at it, but political analysis and writing about it has become my passion and something I would like to get into doing on the more regular basis.
What part of your career made you most proud?
If you mean, the career as a political book writer, I love when the people tell me that they have taken something from what I wrote. I don’t mind if the person’s opinion is positive or negative about my book, because we all have our points of view and mine is by far not the only one, but if someone tells me that they have an opinion on what I said, they have taken something from the book that they were not aware of before and they have made a decision based on a point in my book, that is a gift that I cannot describe in words.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book?
I haven’t yet, but soon I am about to go speak as one of the guest speakers at the Greater Boston Tea Party Rally. It is going to be a great event and I am very humbled by the people that I will be speaking to and the people that will be on the same stage before and after me. It is truly an honor and we, myself, my wife and my son, will be taking a road trip to Boston. The book has only been available for a several months, so I am hoping to make more travel plans and more appearances soon. Short of traveling, I have done some blog talk radio interviews and some online publications have reviewed my book, and interviewed me about it.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
As a child I always loved to read about Sherlock Homes and his adventures. I was fascinated with how well he found clues and how he solved the crimes, so Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be one of them. Jules Verne is another amazing author that I enjoyed reading very much
What is the greatest piece of advice that you have heard?
“Let’s try to see what keeps us together, rather than what divides and separates us.” ~ Ronald Reagan, paraphrased, but I try to live my political life like that. We can debate and argue as parties or even within our own party, but it is better to find a common goal, values and solutions to make an effort for the better future. I try to do that in my personal life as well, as much as I possibly can.
What is your vision for our country over the next five years?
It is very tough question, because I don’t have a crystal ball in my hands, but if I had to guess, I will give you two visions that I see. If we start to wake up as people, make sure that we understand what is being done to us, our constitution and our nation, we can still save it and turn it around. Bring back the principles, values that made this nation great before and we can make it great again. We can survive. My second point is if we don’t wake up and mass majority will make us go in that direction where we are all ‘equal and fair’, if we continue to take from earners and give to those who just want and takers, continue ‘spreading the wealth’, if we can pretend that our nation has no spending problem and that our government, in the current state, is working for our values, then we are doomed. Doomed based on failed theory of others and in 5 years or even less, we will not recognize our nation. We would have abandoned the Constitution, our American values and our core principles. We would not be able to have freedoms that we have now, those same freedoms that people are not realizing that they even have. The freedom of speech, where anyone could say that they don’t like our government and being able to speak out, are some of the basics that people want to destroy, because of other who don’t agree with them. If we lose those freedoms of voicing our opinion and we are the ones who chose to lose some valuable commodity, then we are no better than Soviets and are actually worse, because we let it slip away willingly. I do hope we don’t get there, but at this rate, it is what I predict.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Please educate yourself on your candidates and what they do to you. If there is one thing that I would like to say is, let us not repeat failed theoretical experiments of historical failures. If we are going to try something, that has been tried before and hasn’t worked, trust me, Americans cannot do it better. No one can, because, it is not that they have failed, but that the theory is flawed and can never work, in any society. Learn your history, read about your elected officials and at every point, put their feet to the fire on every issue that you do not agree with. Your freedom is not to argue with them on everything, but to protect yourself, your family and our future, as a sovereign and free nation.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it more successful?
Please spread the word. Tell your friends and your family, because if you liked the book for any reasons that I described and that you might have found it to be valuable to you. I would hope and bet that your friends and family will find something useful to take away from the information in the book as well. Thank you for letting me say a few words, provide your readers with some of my opinions and allow me to answer those questions.
AfterTastes and Tales from Russia is available on Amazon: CLICK HERE