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3.9 out of 5 stars43
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 13 January 2000
It takes really a person who knows Siberia to understand what Colin illustrates in his book. Siberia is not an African savannah to write about 'Travels on an Elephant.'
I should remind critics of this book, that things are never black and white and the grey areas are usually boring unless you are a very realistic person.
I would suggest critics read more fictious stories if they wants some action.
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on 10 May 2013
For me is the best book of siberia's travelling. Great description of the Siberian city and the siberian people. I dream a trik like this.
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on 2 October 2000
Although stylistically, Colin Thubron's travel writing is fairly heavy going, there is so much of interest contained in this book, that it is undoubtedly worth the effort.
Thubron has braved the famous difficult conditions of Siberia to introduce us to the people of the Russian Wild East, not only Russians but also little-known non-Slavic ethnic groups, including the Ket of the upper Yenisei valley and the Buryat of the Lake Baikal region. This travelogue is certainly full of ethnographic material that is not easily obtained in other English-language publications.
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on 22 October 2007
What on earth drives Colin Thubron? Why, traversing a subcontinent whose name has become synonymous with suffering, would he face tedium, banality and appalling weather to seek out agonizing communities, explore Artic death camps, plumb the worldview of demoralized individuals and contemplate remote sites where dramatic events unfolded years, if not millennia, ago? Certainly there is an unrelenting fascination with the mysterious heart of Eurasia, crisscrossed at least three times by the Russian and Chinese-speaking author, but there seems to be more. The intensity of the effort to bear witness to mankind's resistance to inexorable forces sometimes seems like part of a manic attempt to hold back the passage of time itself. Whatever the motivation the result is particularly appropriate when dealing with a place where not only maps, but also human memory and history itself have already been partially "blanked out" by a truly evil empire. This splendid book not only enlightens us about a part of the world and its peoples of which most people are ignorant but makes us regard with awe the commitment of its author.
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on 22 July 2000
This book give us a very good supervision of Siberia and I don't know the abilities of Thubron but they must be many because he knows archeology, history and also how to survive not being very young in these chaotic and dangerous country. The author seems to have lay strong in this travel. The result is excellent but truly bitter book and withouth much expectations to better the poor situation. The account of the facts of the past neither is very happy, concentration camps, massive killings, deportations... We have already heared all that but Thubron confirmates all the terrible facts. For me, a curious phrase from a Siberian: USA is a corrupted country, perhaps the hope would come from Spain. I ask myself what idea has this man of Spain: probably these of the times of soldiers- monks or Torquemada. Sure, difficult times have happened both in the USRR and Spain but the scale of horrors I think is unbeatable in Siberia, except perhaps in Africa. These big countries have anormous natural richess, but it seems these doesn't fit almost for nothing excepting to create a widespread mafia. We all have to wish these good people very, very good luck.
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on 31 October 2000
My views seem to be the exact opposite of the Italian readers, after reading this book you start to realise what a vast and fascinating place Siberia is. Colin Thubron's style can be hard-going at times, but this is a hard place, and I would imagine that the average person who wishes to read about it prefers the depth of detail that writers such as Thubron and Jason Elliot offer as opposed to the readable, yet more superficial and easy-going style of authors such as Josie Dew. Mr Thubron really tries to bring to live to the reader the different mentalities that exist in Siberian consciousness and he gets as close as any Westerner can to their culture. I personally am saving up for my flight to Vladivostok!!
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on 16 December 2011
In Siberia is beautifully, poetically written, as befits an elegy to that huge, largely unknown and somehow frightening tract of land. It is as chilling historically as it is physically: Thubron meets broken spirit after broken spirit, decayed town after decayed town, and so on. Somehow, the unrelenting misery does not bore but inspires awe and sympathy.

Gulag camps haunt the region of course and, as much as anything, this book makes you fear the potential horror of human nature. Stalin's ghost is having a ball in Siberia.

Geographically, the region is more varied than one might expect, though there remains that wearying sense of impossible vastness. I felt it on the Siberian Express and Thubron catches that obscure sense of being defeated by a landscape very poetically, and regularly.

Culturally, the entire region is in horrible shape, with alcoholism holding sway over despairing lives and - plus ca change - the young mostly itching for a way out.

In fact the only uplifting facet of In Siberia is the hopeful and cheerful revival of religion and spirituality. I am not religious but this is the kind of place that fills you with awe and makes you ask the big questions. Thubron evokes that mood elegiacally, but that is about all there is here in terms of feeling good about life and people.

Compelling and beautifully written nonetheless.
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on 29 August 2001
I may be one of the few who does not appreciate Thubron's talents, especially when I compare his work with other travelers who have come through this area and then written about it (I should add, I live in Siberia).
A nagging problem in reading this book is trying to penetrate the author's descriptive narratives when he has a penchant for trying to grasp for new adjectives each time he describes a new scenes.
Another disturbing point was the author's cynicism with anyone who has survived Siberia because of faith (religious belief). His pre-conceived views and opinions about religion get in the way of penetrating the mystery which is Siberia.
Despite so much promise, I found the book disappointing, describing more the author in Siberia, rather than Siberia itself. I found reading "Reeling Through Russia" more engaging and interesting in describing the same area.
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on 13 March 2001
Written in an incredibly lucid and beautiful way. Brings you right to the country itself. His characters are eminently believable yet larger than life. Even minor characters he meets have a significance of their own. Scenery descriptions beautiful. There's something very nostalgic about this book even though you would never want to actually go to Siberia. Very entertaining. 5 stars
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on 30 January 2016
I do not write reviews.
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