In the years following the Second World War, a time when Joseph Stalin let few Americans into the Soviet Union, John Steinbeck was granted exceptional access to travel to the red empire. He fashioned a long, if part-time, journalistic career alongside his fiction writing and in 1947 convinced the New York Herald Tribune to sponsor a six-week trip. Steinbeck saw himself as a reporter determined to bring back news from beyond the Iron Curtain. He also suffered debilitating episodes of depression throughout his life, and in the months leading up to his departure Steinbeck hoped that his Soviet journey might offer him an opportunity to reconnect with a vitality once found at home. As the sociologist Peter Berger has argued, travel to the East could hold with it all the productive and redemptive possibilities of the quixotic quest. For the Oriental flight, as imagined for centuries by adventurers such as Steinbeck, depended on “a belief that there is another reality” far away from one’s own.