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VINE VOICEon 6 June 2008
This is the very best book to encourage any interest in the former USSR it is a truly truly amazing book. It starts in Pinsk, Poland in an area now called Belarus which was occupied by the Soviets during Ryziards childhood and he describes the cruel deportation of 200 000 people to Siberia and how his family avoided it, with his mother staying awake all night long to alert the children if necessary to go into hiding, moving and poignant. He then 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 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. So bizarre, so interesting. Funny, sad, gripping and so true to life in desciptions of human nature. Do read this if you are even vaguely interested in the USSR, it is great.
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on 1 October 2009
Ryszard Kapuscinski has fast become one of my all time favourite writers since I discovered him last year. He is so much more than a travel writer, although this is not to dismiss is incredible ability to evoke far-off times and places. He has the ability to select one small aspect of a person, country or regime and through it create a clear view of the larger picture. In this book he uses the example of barbed wire, it's production and installation, to demonstrate the inevitable failure of the Soviet project; 2 pages of inspired commentary that I read and reread in awe.
In addition to sharp political observation RK is a poet, even in translation his words are alive - the paragraph describing people leaving shapes of themselves in the cold left me speechless.

Imperium and Shadow of the Sun I believe to be his masterpieces and I encourage everyone to read them.
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on 25 March 2011
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 Kapuscinki's body of work. In particular Timothy Garton Ash in Facts are Subversive has ccriticised Kapuscinki. Even James Hamilton-Paterson has touched upon similar criticism. But to criticise Kapuscinski for his literary style is to ignore that he wrote under the perilous Soviet eye. Absolutely his work should be read heavily dolloped as allegory - as critique through literary means.

At one point in this book Soviet customs officers neurotically sift through a huge pile of buttons. What can they possibly expect to find, wonders the author. The way in which authoritarian governments waste peoples lives, jolts from the page.
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on 15 April 2015
Not a mere travel document! but more a meditation on the story of the old Soviet empire. They were years of terror and tragedy for many of the peoples involved. Kapuscinski was a man of deep understanding and compassion, who had a compulsion to travel, search,
talk to those people, and tell the story to the world.
I confess I was startled by some remarkably prescient observations.
I think anyone who is interested in their fellow human being would want to read this book.
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on 2 June 2013
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 Kapuscinski's life in his native Poland. Clearly he views them as blundering oaths in the main and so he therefore can understand why other subject people throughout the empire feel the same way. As with any Kapuscinski book you get an artfully crafted masterpiece.
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on 20 July 2013
Having visited Russia last year and travelled across the country I was looking forward to reading this book and it didn't disappoint. What comes across most for me is a sense of poignancy, as the author travels around the country. I'd recommend this to others who are looking for an insider's view of this vast and varied country.
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on 11 January 2014
As always, Ryszard Kapuscinski manages to include such detail into his works that it's easy to be enveloped by the book's depth. A concise personal story of his own life and how the Soviet empire looked from the eyes of someone bound by the Iron Curtain. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in the subject.
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on 15 August 2013
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.
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on 18 May 2014
I didn't red lise the book was an old editinon. But that's my fault. Everything else was perfect, condition and delivery time!
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on 11 February 2010
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 corners of the earth as regimes were falling apart and the world was changing . Whether in Angola as it was struggling for independence or El Salvador when at was with Honduras , he was always up for the challenge to go there , explore the situation , witness the horror and talk about it . The 1995 study of his on the disintegrasion of the Soviet Union is easily one of the best books written about the topic and along with " The Shah Of Shahs " , maybe his best work ever . Kapuscinski was a talented storyteller with a sharp tongue and a vivid writting style and what's most admirable for me is the ever-present humanity in his political analysis . This book is just mesmerizing and his body of work simply stellar .
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