While I am a big fan of DK Eyewitness Travel series, this book utterly disappoints. The introduction starts full of propaganda stamps: "mafia-state", "petrodollars", "towns and villages languished in poverty". The "history" part, well, you guess it, nothing but "gulag" and "dissidents". But then, who reads this part anyway, right? On to the travel pages:
3/4 of the book is dedicated to Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Which leaves only about 60 pages for the rest of the country. Which makes one wonder, why even bother to publish this book, when there are separate guides for both of these cities.
So, let's review these 60 pages. Russia, after all, has 25 beautiful UNESCO World Heritage sites, so there should be enough to get a traveler busy.
The magnificent Solovetsky islands? Nope, not there. Ferrapontov Monastery in Vologda? Ancient city of Derbent? Not even a mention.
The famous Golden Ring of Russia? Four of the 13 cities have made it into the book. Suzdal got lucky, but not Rostov Velikiy, Kostroma or Ivanovo.
Medieval fortresses of Vyborg, Izborsk or Shlisselburg? Town and Fortress of Kronstadt? Imperial palaces of Oranienbaum, Strelna or Gatchina? Neither was worth even a single sentence. And yes, most of these are included into UNESCO World Heritage sites list.
Lena Pillars Nature Park (another World Heritage site)? Not there. Neither is Yakutsk. So, if you are planning to take one of the popular Lena river cruises, or visit the Pole of Cold - choose another book.
So, what is there, what has made the list of sights a regular tourist wants to see in Russia?
- White Sea Canal - a former Gulag site
- Perm36 - another former Gulag site
- Magadan - well, you guessed it
- Stalin's Bunker in Samara - it actually has more information dedicated to it, than some of the country's finest art museums
So, I would only recommend this book if you vie to get your head loaded with the Cold War era propaganda. If you are just a tourist who wants to marvel at the beautiful churches of Rostov, museums of Gatchina or natural monuments on Lena river - look for an actual travel guide.