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White Fever: A Journey to the Frozen Heart of Siberia by [Hugo-Bader, Jacek]
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White Fever: A Journey to the Frozen Heart of Siberia Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Length: 348 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'A funny, enlightening and thoroughly engaging piece of reportage ... Hugo-Bader offers a riveting tour of this benighted land' --Financial Times

`An extraordinary, compassionate piece of reportage' --Metro

'A compelling portrait of a society in moral and social breakdown' --Guardian

`An inspiring account of an odyssey into the frozen heart of a dying continent, sparkling with vignettes of human endurance' --The Times

'This gently devastating account of an odyssey across the ruined lands of Siberia is a gem. Must read' --Sunday Times

'Hugo-Bader is an excellent and intrepid reporter' --Spectator

About the Author

Born in 1957, JACEK HUGO-BADER is a Polish journalist for the leading daily paper, Gazeta Wyborcza. He is a former special needs teacher, loader of trucks, weigher of pigs, and counsellor of troubled couples. He lives in Warsaw.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2588 KB
  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1846272696
  • Publisher: Portobello Books (7 July 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IONIZM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #247,025 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Did you know that within Russia there exists a small republic of Transnistria (it is unrecognised by other countries) whose main product is an exquisite and expensive cognac? Did you know that Lake Baykal (which is bigger than some seas) has a shore with dead bodies of sailors frozen to its rocks? Did you know that vodka can have hallucinogenic effects?

In Jacek Hugo-Bader's book you will find this and many other incredible but factual stories about different parts of the vast Russian country and its people. That's why I find the under-title misleading - the book is about so much more than just how to survive the Siberian cold.

The author meets various people on his way across Russia, he drinks with the bums, talks with prostitutes and hears confessions of dead miners' wives and HIV carriers. He tells a first-hand experience of life in Russia. This is a Michael Palin type of story. If you are interested in how other people live, how they cope and what they think - in this case the different ethnicities and social groups in Russia - it is a must-read for you.

The book is absolutely terrific, I read it in Polish and am so happy it has been translated - I am buying the English version for a friend.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Caution! This is a powerful and disturbing book, and not for the fainthearted. Ostensibly about a gruelling road trip across Siberia, it is - more accurately - a diary account of the striking individuals the author meets en route. Their harrowing personal stories present a haunting picture of physical and moral decline - the dark side of the Russian soul - that you'll never hear about in Russia Today broadcasts.
Beyond the oil-rich oligarchs and the urban middle classes, lies a huge underclass. It can be found in the tower-block estates, and in the countryside, across huge swathes of the former Soviet Union. Here, we see true poverty. Alcoholism and drug abuse are endemic. HIV and Aids are commonplace. Lives are short, sometimes brutish and often tragic. The author meets former hippies, once persecuted for their non-conformity. He visits communities blighted, then all but destroyed, by the horrific nuclear tests of the 1960's. He sees poisoned grazing lands; landscapes transformed by the bomb blasts; the uniquely horrible effects of radiation sickness in young children, and pathetic orphaned survivors confined to institutions which are unspeakably inhumane. (Were animals to be treated in a similar fashion in Britain, there would be an outcry.)
I defy any reader to remain unmoved.
Which brings me to the title, White Fever. It's the name used to describe the effects of vodka poisoning on the indigenous people of Siberia - reindeer herders, hunters and trappers - who once numbered hundreds of thousands, but are disappearing fast. It's all down to vodka - and cheap and nasty substitutes like rectified alcohol - which their bodies can't cope with, thanks to their genetic disposition.
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Format: Hardcover
I think that this is the best book I have read about modern Russia. Hugo-Bader manages to get under the skin of Siberia in this incredibly well researched, dramatic, funny and tragic travelogue. He takes us along with him through shamanic rituals in Siberian hospitals, into Evenki villages plagued by vodka (leading to the 'White Fever' of the title) and face to face with the dreadful administration of an orphanage in Ayaguz. We meet HIV sufferers, ageing hippies and Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the automatic rifle. The book takes in a huge amount of material and Hugo-Bader manages to examine all of it with profundity and sensitivity.

Ineresting comparisons might be made with Daniel Kalder's book 'Strange Telescopes', which covers some similar areas (both authors enter the world of Vissarion, a former traffic cop who now proclaims himself Christ to his many followers). Enjoyable as Kalder's book is, Hugo-Baden's account is simply more impressive.

Hugo-Baden writes with a sense of humour and, unusually for a non-fiction author, incorporates wonderful moments of metatextuality. He has a real ear for the idiolects of the different people he meets on his journey and their speech is rendered wonderfully in the book. He avoids grandiose, poetic descriptions of the icy taiga, preferring to focus on the people living there. This approach truly allows him to show us what is really going on in this country.

I would agree with all of the comments in the previous excellent review, with the exception of the comparison to Michael Palin. This writer seems able to explore niches and corners far darker, more obscure and more interesting than Palin.

Some parts of this book are incredibly difficult to read because they are so filled with sadness. I would, however, recommend any reader with even the vaguest of interests in this country to pick up a copy.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are expecting a detailed travel log about a jeep journey across Russia-forget it. The authors geographical encounters in the book are extremely brief. However, the author has very cleverly inserted his people experiences across this vast country........but interaction mainly with people and communities that are struggling with life and all the challenges they face. Russia is a giant of a country, successfully competing in global industry and commerce. Lets not forget, there are a lot of rich Russians these days. The author has not gone that way, he is out in the sticks with the locals in the 'Real Russia'. I work in Russia now and there is so much I can relate to and have seen, that is in this book. A great read, well written with a lot of surprises. Welldone!
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