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Imperium Hardcover – 1 Sep 1994


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Hardcover, 1 Sep 1994
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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Alfred a Knopf (1 Sept. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679426191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679426196
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,205,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Kapuscinski's writing has achieved the status of literature.' Daily Telegraph -'The most passionate, engaging and historically profound account of the Soviet empire that I have read.' Michael Ignatieff -'Russia was a real threat which hung over the early part of Kapuscinski's life. It is hardly surprising that he understands Russia better, and writes about the country with greater clarity and beauty, than those who know Russia only as an abstraction.' Spectator --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ryszard Kapuscinski was born in 1932. During his four decades of reporting on Asia, Latin America, and Africa, Kapuscinski witnessed 27 coups and revolutions and was sentenced to death four times. His books include The Shadow of the Sun, The Emperor, Another Day of Life, The Shah of Shahs and The Soccer War (which is also available from Granta Books). --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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MY FIRST ENCOUNTER with the Imperium takes place near the bridge linking the small town of Pinsk, Poland, with the territories to the south. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
After reading the first few pages I knew I would be forever a fan of Ryszard Kapuscinksi. Writing in a captivating and extremely enjoyable prose, Ryszard attempts to convey the recent history of the Soviet Union and more so its ressiliant and inhabitants. Travelling across the USSR as it begins to crumble, Ryszard describes the strength and endurance of those who survived the cold oppression of the soviet regime. After finishing this book I had the burning urge to read more of this brilliant journalist and can't wait to sample some of his other books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Richard M. Price on 9 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is not a systematic study, based on secondary sources, but an account of the author's own experience, largely in travels round the outlying parts of the USSR (Siberia and the now independent states to the south) between 1967 and 1993. The writing is vivid, and a number of important aspects of the Stalinist past and modern conditions are treated with insight and feeling, though it remains a travel-book whose sequence is determined not by the unfolding of an argument, but by the chronology of the writer's movements. The book ends with prognostications of the future - written in 1993. How well do they stand up twenty years later? Kapuscinski's direct experience of the periphery of the country made him sceptical about any rapid improvements in a country so vast and with such poor infrastructure. As for politics, he writes: `The democratic camp, so active during the struggle against communism, has been pushed to the margins of the political stage and finds itself either in disarray or simply forgotten... Forces calling for the consolidation of power (especially of central power) and a strong, might nation are gaining the upper hand. It is a climate that encourages authoritarian methods of government, favorable to various forms of dictatorship.' - This was pretty clear by the late 1990s, even before Putin came to power, but to realize this as early as 1993 was surely exceptional.

The translation reads well, though there is some carelessness over the correct English transliteration of Russian names and terms. For example, `nomenclature' is not the right translation of `nomenklatura'.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Sally Wilton VINE VOICE on 4 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Truly truly amazing book by a great journalist who went forth fearlessly where others would not dare. It starts in Pinsk, Poland in an area now called Belarus which was occupied by the USSR during Ryziards childhood and he describes the cruel deportation of 200 000 people to Siberia and how his family miraculously avoided it. He moves around to different parts of the USSR and there is always a great tale to tell about places most of us havent heard of from the oil fields of Azerbejan to the desert of Turkmenestan. Snippets of information, stories, anecdotes, for example how Stalin in his madness demolished the beautiful cathedral next to the Kremlin with a plan to build a skyscraper 5 times the size of the empire state building with a statue of Lenin atop. The incredible cruelty of Stalin's illiterate henchment is laid bare here with true stories from places that would be hell on earth in any circumstances. So bizarre, so interesting. Do read this if you are atall interested in the USSR it is great.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Book lover on 9 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
Ryszard Kapuscinski was an award winning international reporter who grew up in Poland and spent 40 years in Africa where he experienced 27 revolutions! Imperium is his account of life in the 'colonies' of the USSR before its break up. RK is a truly phenomenal writer who believes that you cannot write about something unless you have been there and experienced something 'with your own skin'. He is incapable of writing a dull word. The book consists of his travels to eg Ukraine, his experiences, observations and comments. What he sees and does is absolutely fascinating. He has the ability to capture the essence of a place through pen pictures so the reader really feels informed but his writing is utterly varied, lucid and descriptive. If you have an enquiring mind you will love this book. RK should have got the Nobel Prize for literature!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Easily Me on 21 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
There are many factors that have mythologised and romanticised Russia in the minds of many: of course, the veil of secrecy that has surrounded the place since before, during and after the establishment of the U.S.S.R. has given it a mystique that cannot fail to arouse one's curiosity; its sheer size and location just beyond the comprehension of European consciousness give it a presence that cannot be ignored; and its cultural influence - in terms of its thinkers, its writers and its politics - serves to support and emphasise that presence. It has been, and will continue to be for a long while yet, the exotic-other on our door-step.

Ryszard Kapuscinski, with his typically naturally-flowing, significant-but-not-pretentious style, entertains and educates in equal measure, and shines a light on many of the places that have remained in the shade for far too long and far too easily, simply due to the fact that our eyes have been diverted or that the little is so easily consumed in the large that is Russia and was the U.S.S.R.

When I say 'places', it would be more accurate to say 'people' as this is where Kapuscinski's light really shines, and it is people and the human spirit that populate this book. Even in critical accounts of the machinations of whatever state or system, the impact upon the person-in-the-street, like you or me, often gets lost; the critique simply replicates the dehumanising effect the state or system is said to have: people remain statistics and, although to an argument rather than to a system, slaves. As always with Kapuscinski, it is the people first and the system second, yet this approach says so much more about the larger world we inhabit than any cool, detached analysis can ever hope to achieve.
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