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In Siberia
Authors: Colin Thubron

An enormous and mysterious land, Siberia remains an exotic unknown that has haunted the imagination of Westerners for centuries. Thubron takes us into the heart of Siberia on a journey of discovery from Mongolia to the Arctic Circle, from Rasputin's village in the west through tundra, taiga, splendid mountains, lakes and rivers to the derelict Jewish community in Birobidzhan in the far eastern reaches of the region. More than a travel book, In Siberia is a moving and profound portrait of a region rich with history (and the remains of an intriguing prehistorical past), religions, and a profusion of fascinating peoples and cultures.

Travelling alone, by train, boat, car, and on foot, Thubron explores this vast territory, talking to anyone he can find about the state of the country today and what it is like to live there. He finds a land of spectacular natural beauty, marked by the horrors of the Gulag and Soviet exploitation of its abundant natural resources. Beneath the permafrost, all too near the surface, lie bones and nuclear waste. And yet in counterpoise to the horror is the extraordinary human compassion he encounters: Wherever he goes, somebody takes him in and feeds him, no matter how poor they are. Perhaps the "core to Siberia" for which Thubron is searching turns out to be an unshakeable desire to believe, a quintessentially Russian hopefulness that is born of faith. Thubron traces it from Dostoevsky through the wreckage of communism to present day Siberia where it appears under other names.

Written in a marvelously elegant prose, In Siberia penetrates a mysterious and beautiful part of the world.

From Publishers Weekly
Many adventurers plunge into Siberia in search of untrammeled roads or unspoiled grandeur; only a handful bring with them a significant knowledge of the land's history, geology and wildlife. Even rarer are those who relay the experience as magically as does this award-winning author. Thubron (The Lost Heart of Asia) recounts a journey studded with fantastic encounters: in Pokrovskoye, a peasant who claims to be a descendant of Rasputin wrestles with his own identity as he nears the age of the infamous holy man's death; in Omsk, wizened grandmothers talk of skinny-dipping in holy water; in the Pazyryk valley, excavators remove a prince, his concubine and a team of stallions from two and a half millennia of frozen slumber; in Kyzyl, a local shaman places an order for Scottish walrus tusks. The author marvels: "wherever I stopped seemed atypical, as if the essential Siberia could exist only in my absence." In fact, that phantom essence pervades Thubron's journey, which stretches from the site of the grisly murder of the Romanovs to the Far Eastern epicenter of the brutal penal camp system that killed millions of Soviet citizens. More than a report of an inquisitive traveler's adventures, Thubron's account doubles as a haunting elegy to the victims of the bloodshed and hardship that are Siberia's most lasting legacy. Only his tender treatment of Siberia's enchanting characters and extraordinary natural beauty brighten what would be an otherwise dark and desolate path
© 1999 Cahners Business Information.
$14.99 (softcover)
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