Tracing back to the origins where the likes of Ermak and the Stroganovs roamed and fur traders and hunters ventured east to tap in and exploit the growing and highly lucrative trade of animal furs who then began the gradual process of slowly opening up the vast region to the outside world. Hartley then traces the development of this vast regions from Tsars, Cossacks and then the eventual opening of the Trans Siberian railway through revolutions, wars and then up to today.
This is a well researched piece of work and the author’s love of her subject comes through strongly. There are no shortage of fairly detailed maps and pictures the text itself can be dry and academic at times and overall I found the style a bit too cold and scholarly for me but there was still enough interesting history and facts to make this is an interesting and worthwhile read.
The author has done her homework and, at sometimes tedious length, give the reader some sense of how Siberia functioned and how the Russian arrivals lived there. Little, sadly, about the indigeni, and interaction between them and the incomers (distinctly less bad, I have read from other reputed neutral sources, than across the USA 1850 onwards). Transliteration of names from Russian irritatingly follows the absurd US-Library-of-Congress practice.