We gave it a B+
Under capitalism man exploits man. Under communism the reverse is true, and who should know better than Vladimir Lobas, a Soviet emigre filmmaker who became a New York City cabdriver after his dentist told him he needed $4,850 worth of bridgework. Only in America!
With affection, disgust, and slangy brio, Lobas describes the fits and starts of his new career in Taxi From Hell: Confessions of a Russian Hack. He learns to drive on the job. Before long he can navigate Broadway and find several routes to La Guardia Airport. He knows that to break even, you have to break the law. He masters the Byzantine system of bribes and kickbacks doormen collect from the multicultural cabbies who jockey for an edge, an angle, a two-buck advantage. The connection between rat race and racism has never been clearer.
Back in Kiev, Lobas recalls, a friend denounced the Brezhnev regime, was arrested, tortured by KGB doctors, and died for his principles. In Brooklyn a fellow cabbie takes out a loan he can’t pay off, ruins his health with overtime, and dies for his career. As for the author, he’s a survivor. What saves his skin, if not his ideals, is a likable mixture of chivalry and cynicism, and the humor that makes his bitter book so easy to take. B+