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Imperium [Paperback]

Ryszard Kapuscinski
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: £9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

3 Sep 2007
"Imperium" is the story of an empire: the constellation of states that was submerged under a single identity for most of the twentieth century - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This is Kapuscinski's vivid, compelling and personal report on the life and death of the Soviet superpower, from the entrance of Soviet troops into his hometown in Poland in 1939, through his journey across desolate Siberia and the republics of Central Asia in the 1950s and 60s, to his wanderings over the vast Soviet lands - from Poland to the Pacific, the Arctic Circle to Afghanistan - in the years of the USSR's decline and final disintegration in 1991.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (3 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862079609
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862079601
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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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

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).

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MORE THAN A TRAVEL BOOK... 1 Feb 2002
By A Customer
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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best ever book about the old USSR 4 Jun 2008
By Sally Wilton VINE VOICE
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great book 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As It Is. 27 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback
The first book i read by Ryszard Kapuscinski "THE SHADOW OF THE SUN" was without doubt the closest description of life in Africa written by a white man that i have read having spent ten years working there myself. He has taken his very astute sense of insight and observation to the old Soviet Union in "IMPERIUM", This is one part of the world i have never travelled in but when reading it , which i am still in the process of ,he manages to portray the vast scale and complexity of this old empire and the people who inhabit the various parts of it, Definitly worth five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive impressions 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE PEOPLE SPEAK AND THE PEOPLE FEEL 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise and deeply interesting personal story of the Soviet Empire and...
As always, Ryszard Kapuscinski manages to include such detail into his works that it's easy to be enveloped by the book's depth. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Thierry Peters
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read for more demanding readers.
one of the best books I have read. Provides a lot if facts and informations on the soviet system in the reader friendly language. Five star buy.
Published 8 months ago by Anna Bednarska
5.0 out of 5 stars Very poignant memoir
Having visited Russia last year and travelled across the country I was looking forward to reading this book and it didn't disappoint. Read more
Published 8 months ago by traveller
5.0 out of 5 stars Immense and wonderful
Imperium is an immense and wonderful book. Although it is an account of the old USSR empire it also has a very personal feel about it given that Russians intruded very early in... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mad Geographer
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Short of Brilliant, a unique and objective view of Soviet life
The Soviet Union was a closed and intriguing society. From that era there have come many great travel books, many thought-evoking political polemics and many excellent historical... Read more
Published on 19 Sep 2011 by Book Republik
5.0 out of 5 stars Surviving the Soviet Union...
A masterful collection of reportage from three different periods of the Imperium's existence, from domination to dynamic tension to dissolution. Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2011 by Dr. G. SPORTON
5.0 out of 5 stars Against the tyrrany of the fact: against tyrrany in fact
Perhaps his best book because it is about the Soviet-Bloc, his home-land, and hence about himself.

There is a contemporary hoo-hah about the journalistic accuracy of... Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2011 by Mr. N. Foale
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading
Blessed with seemingly watermellon-sized balls and a talent for observing the detail , Mr . Kapuscinski lived an exciting and courageous life , travelling to the most unassuming... Read more
Published on 11 Feb 2010 by giovanni
5.0 out of 5 stars A poet
Ryszard Kapuscinski has fast become one of my all time favourite writers since I discovered him last year. Read more
Published on 1 Oct 2009 by Melquiades
5.0 out of 5 stars great reading - gives limited insight
As stated in most of the reviews of this book, Kapuscinski is a great writer. If you have not read him already, read this book and understand why. Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2009 by Jan Øystein Thorsnæs
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