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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I am a long time Dervla Murphy fan and couldn't wait to read this, her latest, book. I was glad to see she has lost none of her adventurous spirit (in spite of being well in her 70s) or her love of discomfort, which makes Dervla so endearing. As usual, she mingles with locals and manages to gather a surprising amount of information (considering language barriers). She...
Published on 23 Jun 2007 by Tamara

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some doubts remain
I must have read 'Full Tilt' some 20 years ago and so I am no stranger to Dervla Murphy's personality and reputation. This (and the graphic on the cover) perhaps explains why I took this to be a book about a cycle adventure. In fact it is hardly that at all as most of the travelling is done by train. However, the travel writing is as vivid and insightful as you would...
Published on 21 May 2011 by Milemuncher


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 23 Jun 2007
I am a long time Dervla Murphy fan and couldn't wait to read this, her latest, book. I was glad to see she has lost none of her adventurous spirit (in spite of being well in her 70s) or her love of discomfort, which makes Dervla so endearing. As usual, she mingles with locals and manages to gather a surprising amount of information (considering language barriers). She does get carried away on several ocassions, when raging against her pet hates, capitalism and the World Bank (although she does make it perfectly clear why she hates these and one tends to agree with her).

She suffers a few set backs which many other travellers would find off putting, including being robbed at gun point. It is also rather a sad book, because although it conveys the beauty of Siberia in winter and the friendliness of some (not all!) the Siberians, we also learn about the negative aspects of the 'new' Russia, which certainly do not seem to have brought many benefits to its citizens since the fall of Communism.

All in all this is Dervla Murphy still at her finest.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a new discovery for me!, 17 Nov 2007
By 
Susan Holck (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Silverland: A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals (Paperback)
I came across this book completely by accident (browsing in a bookstore in Switzerland); I'm not generally a fan of travel books but this one caught my attention and I bought it - to my delight! This is the only book I've read by this author but I am definitely planning to get others. It is captivating, informative, a great read. Also, she intersperses her travel accounts with interesting historical and cultural background. The section on TB in Russia, which I happen to know quite a bit about, was impressively accurate. Highly recommended!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars silverland - captivating landscapes and people, 9 Jan 2010
By 
Hope Inmad (northampton, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Silverland: A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals (Paperback)
As usual I love and look forward to reading a Dervla Murphy book. She is such an intrepid traveller and with such a strong blend of humour, common sense, intellectual strength and curiosity, together with an ability to make friends wherever she goes that you can't help going along with her. No matter what scrapes this 75 year old lady gets into, it is all grist to the mill for her story. When Russian beaurocracy keeps her from retrieving her bike from the station, she gets into all sorts of altrnative adventures and then when she eventually does get her bike back and sets off on a long awaited ride to Moscow, she is mugged at gunpoint. Luckily this happens near the end of her trip as she is robbed of a lot of money. She had been prepared for such an attack and describes with amusing detail the means of secreting cash in various bodily crevices. The ultimate reserve of dollar notes remained unviolated, but her money belt and shoe cavities were soon emptied by the professional highway robbers. The frailty of her elderly frame starts to show in her subsequent fatigue. Her academic work continues though and she carries on relating the ideas and arguments of the friends she makes and meets, interpersed with historic asides of her own.

I did have a problem reading this book though. The typeface is small and not bold enough for me to be able to read it easily. This slowed me down, especially the political/historic insertions which are in a smaller font still.

I hope a DVD will be made of it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some doubts remain, 21 May 2011
This review is from: Silverland: A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals (Paperback)
I must have read 'Full Tilt' some 20 years ago and so I am no stranger to Dervla Murphy's personality and reputation. This (and the graphic on the cover) perhaps explains why I took this to be a book about a cycle adventure. In fact it is hardly that at all as most of the travelling is done by train. However, the travel writing is as vivid and insightful as you would expect from this author.

The book gives a masterclass in travel writing with flowing description jostling with personal encounters, historical backgrounders and political rants throughout the 275 pages. Dervla Murphy is at her best when she seeks to give you a sense of the lived lives of the people she encounters on her journeys. She is as much sociologist and historian as she is traveller. In this regard this book does not disappoint.

However, I have to say I did not finish it. By the end of my reading I ground to a stop: somewhere along the read the slabs of historical background and the rants against aspects of modern living and western policies got to be too much for me. While I share the general political perspective the author advances I lost patience and confidence with her on this occasion. I lost patience with the historical sections because they seemed remote and too poorly connected to the lives of the people she met. I lost confidence as I came to question the simplicity of her analysis of policy and so began to question how clearly she was seeing the people she met with. I worried that she was seeing their world through her own ideologically framed lens. I worried that she seemed to be locked into a past Russia that might have been admirable in many respects, but was now just not sustainable.

I think I had another problem. Travel in Siberia in winter is just too hard for me to imagine ever wanting to do it. Somehow the graphic account of life in perpetual frost crept into me and convinced me that this was a journey I could never imagine myself wanting to make.

I abandoned the book reluctantly, however, if for no other reason than someone who suffered as much as the author her research deserved to be cut some slack. She is a remarkable person and her fortitude would be outstanding at any age - far less as she is well over 70. Silverland also presents a very different and powerfully independent view of what is going on in the former USSR and in our wider world and for that it is to be welcomed and admired.

A serious book by a truly intrepid traveller with a strong spirit and very clear personal view of the world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Travel Book, 18 Jun 2014
By 
Nico (Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Silverland: A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals (Paperback)
Dervla Murphy can always be relied upon to write a fine travel book and so it is with Silverland, which details here travels through Russia (primarily Siberia) by train. Normally I'd give a Dervla book a 5 star however I do feel this one probably only rates a 4.

Murphy is at her best when travelling with a mule, on foot or bicycle through a remote mountain range with few other people about. On this trip she never got the opportunity to do so and I think the book suffered from this a bit. Whilst Murphy has a fine eye for detail and is a keen observer I don't think she is at her best writing about urban environments. In Siberia in particular she seemed to visit one polluted and dying industrial city after another and after awhile they all seemed to merge into one.

Also it gave Dervla more tine to rant, whilst I find her rants very funny and/or interesting big chunks of them can get a bit tiresome. Interestingly the extra rants (every book has it's certain quota and target) seemed to replace the self-deprecating humour that normally is present.

Despite the above criticism I would still highly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars amazing book written by an amazing woman, 16 April 2014
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This review is from: Silverland: A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals (Paperback)
Stories with related historical background of a woman traveling across Russia third class. Unexpected insights into the the thinking of people who have lived through completely ways of life and ideologies in a very short space of time. Prepare to have your mind opened, whether you agree or disagree with the author, you cannot challenge her right to her views having travelled so extensively worldwide and shared life with so many different peoples
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4.0 out of 5 stars PRESENT, 12 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Silverland: A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals (Paperback)
I BOUGHT THIS AS A PRESENT FOR MY MOTHER WHO LOVES TO READ ABOUT PLACES SHE HAS NEVER BEEN TO
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5.0 out of 5 stars armchair travel, 21 April 2011
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This review is from: Silverland: A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals (Paperback)
In her unique style of mixing personal experiences, encounters with local people, apt descriptions of places and landscapes with general information about historic and political background of Sibiria and Russia, Dervla Murphy brings to life a region of the world few of us will ever visit themselves. She manages to make Sibiria at minus 30 degrees seem attractive to someone shivering in a damp-cold Irish house in winter, quite a remarkable achievement!
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Silverland: A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals
Silverland: A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals by Dervla Murphy (Paperback - 15 Nov 2007)
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