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Lost Cosmonaut Paperback – 2 Feb 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (2 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571227805
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571227808
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.4 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,508,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Kalder has written a brilliantly funny travel book that questions the essence of exploration and the nature of tourism in an age when there's nowhere new to go."-- "Esquire" (UK)

Book Description

Lost Cosmonaut documents the incredible travels of Daniel Kalder, in a book which is an eye-opening, blackly comic tour of the most alien planet in our cosmos: Earth.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By D. Humphries on 1 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
Did you know there was a Buddhist republic in Europe? And a desert for that matter? Or a pagan republic? Russia stretches from Eastern Europe to Alaska and contains many semi-autonomous republics - they have their own presidents, their own TV stations, their own heroes and legends and, of course, their own corruption, brutality, and cities dedicated to chess. They just don't have tourists.
Kalder sets out as an 'anti-tourist' visiting these undesirable places and casting a realistic eye over them and their prospects; yet the same eye also contains a deep empathy towards these people and their invisible countries. Kalder's black humour carries the book from history to personal encounter (or non-encounter) with ease, and his revelations broaden out the view well beyond four republics you've never heard of.
Kalder states at the beginning that 'travel rarely broadens the mind', and travel books even more rarely do so. But this one does, brilliantly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stene on 2 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
I read some of the negative (1 and 2 star) reviews before I bought this, as a friend of mine suggested they can tell you much more about a book than the glowing 5 star reviews. He was spot on. The only thing is, the negative reviews of this book, very nearly put me off. But, as I managed to find a cheap, 2nd hand copy, I decided to risk it, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

I found a guy, who doesn't want to go to the Republics, just for the sake of laughing at or mocking these people, he wants to see what makes them tick. Base level travelling. Maybe it's like 'base jumping' or something. The book's not perfect, but it made me want to read more, and for me, that's very good.

I didn't know about a couple of these republics, shame on historian me. But then again, the Russians really did get around during the Soviet period. So much territory to cover.

It's a fairly easy read, but with substance; heart. Something for those of you who aren't just interested in pretty pictures or coffee table books from Travel Writers. This guy's also lived in Moscow for quite a few years, which frankly scares me more than these Republics. My own dream is to go to Kamchatka; I saw a guy pulling a huge fish out of a stream on TV, with his bare hands. That I want to see.

Love it or hate it. Kalder has his own style. He's flippant at times, but not as shallow as some reviewers would paint him. He has more soul that most snap happy travellers you see around these days. He gets himself 'in' there. As drab as the reality may be - yes, sometimes it really is just drab. But it's real.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Alcroft on 27 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
File under "eccentric travel". Kalder, an expatriot Scot living in Russia, decides to visit a few of the more out-of-the-way European Russian Republics, and finds well, not a lot really apart from a lot of empty steppe, crumbling concrete apartment blocks, bad hotels and the remnants of some of the more obscure Asiatic races to have wandered into Europe over the centuries.

Kalder describes himself as an "anti-tourist", in search of the opposite of the kind of thing that would normally attract visitors; scenery, history, good food, weather etc., and he certainly finds it in these out of the way places. By the end of the book he wasn't really sure why he'd made these journeys, and neither was I, but he's done us all a service in locating those exotic destinations that you really don't want go to, and it's an entertaining read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Boris on 10 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to evaluate this book, because I can't avoid the feeling that it could have been a lot more. It is certainly a good, quick read, takes the reader to "zany" places, and there are so many jokes that the law of averages dictates that some of them are going to be genuinely funny, even if a number of them do loom on the horizon like Titanic-sinking icebergs.

What I miss, however, is any real depth to the book, and I only rarely had the feeling that the author really got under the surface of the places he visited. Instead, he tends to use them as the butt for a barrage of the aforementioned jokes, which at some point cheapens the narrative, adding an air that sometimes borders on a kind of colonialist arrogance. There comes a point when the reader - or at least I - really wants to know more about what the people in these places are dealing with, what motivates or moves them. This is lacking.

At the same time, the author has a habit of making wholesale generalisations (e.g. "Iran is a hellhole" - in fact it is anything but), which are based either on exuberance in his own writing, a degree of immaturity or complete ignorance. These sorts of comments, as well as a baffling eagerness to repeatedly use the term "cumstain", become genuinely irritating. Moreover, anyone who has travelled extensively around FSU countries (as I have had the mixed fortune of doing) will realise that the author is rather less intrepid than he makes himself out to be, but ultimately that is not so important.

That said, I suppose that at no point did the author set out to achieve a work of depth, and his chief aim is presumably to take the reader to unexpected, quirky locations and recount amusing anecdotes about them. So if you take the book for what it is - a superficial, often amusing account brief trips to Russian backwaters (not that Kazan is really a backwater) - then it does succeed in this and makes for entertaining reading.
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