Join the Hoover Book Club for engaging discussions with leading authors on the hottest policy issues of the day. Hoover scholars explore the latest books that delve into some of the most vexing policy issues facing the United States and the world. Find out what makes these authors tick and how they think we should approach our most difficult challenges. 

In our latest installment, watch a discussion between Bill Whalen, the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Distinguished Policy Fellow in Journalism and Bertrand M. Patenaude, a research fellow and author of the recently released Hoover Institution Press book Bread + Medicine: American Famine Relief in Soviet Russia, 1921–1923 on Thursday, June 1, 2023 at 10:00 am PT/ 1:00pm ET.



Bertrand M. Patenaude is the author of The Big Show in Bololand: The American Relief Expedition to Soviet Russia in the Famine of 1921 (Stanford University Press, 2002).

Joan Nabseth Stevenson received her PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University. She is the author of Deliverance from the Little Big Horn: Doctor Henry Porter and Custer’s Seventh Cavalry.



A century ago, the Soviet Union faced a catastrophic famine, brought on by the disruptions of World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the Russian Civil War; draconian Soviet economic policies; and a severe drought. As millions of people faced starvation and hunger-related disease, the Russian writer Maxim Gorky issued an appeal for help, asking “all honest European and American people for prompt aid to the Russian people. Give bread and medicine.” One person was uniquely situated to answer the call: Herbert Hoover, chair of the American Relief Administration (ARA), who had achieved worldwide fame as the organizer and administrator of large-scale humanitarian relief operations during and following World War I.

American relief helped millions survive the famine of 1921–23. While the role of food aid has been well documented, Bread + Medicine focuses on the lesser-known story of America’s medical intervention, including a large-scale vaccination drive, and treatment of famine-related diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and typhus and hunger-related deficiency diseases, especially among children. The ARA’s medical relief program proved essential to the overall success of its mission. Bread + Medicine, richly illustrated with photographs, posters, and documents from the Hoover Library & Archives, tells that story in vivid detail.

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