Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's

Customer Review

on 21 September 2011
There's something about this superb book that manages to make the work of most other travel writers seem contrived. Inspired it seems by the relatively pure motive of wanting to find out what Siberia is really like, Thubron ventures across the whole territory, and is so doing has fashioned a hard-to-put-down book that reveals a landscape and a people that are equally distinctive.

Thubron is adept at providing the necessary jaw-dropping statistics about the sheer size of the place when needs be. He is also equal to the task of evoking this landscape in many finely written passges. However, the number of pages devoted to geography and topography are dwarfed by the number of encounters with real people. This is no bad thing, since Thubron clearly has a talent for getting on with people and for engaging them in conversation, and in turn he is very skilled in drawing a revealing pen-portrait. Whether it's a man who claims to be directly descended from Siberian native Rasputin, or the Doctor tending to a decaying village of hopeless, hapless drunks in the far north, a survivor of the Gulag, or the KGB man turned Baptist preacher in Siberia's west, many of these people will stay in your memory. In the absence of any real answer to what Siberia is like, Thubron doesn't contrive to provide his own answers and instead reveals a lot more about the place by showing what effect it has had on some of the people who actually dwell there.

Overall, Thubron is sympathetic to these people and the region without being sentimental. He clearly respects the fortitude many of them show, and does them some kind of service by rendering so clearly the often harsh plights in which they find themselves. For Siberia is, he reveals, a place not only with an often dark past, but one that currently exists in an uncertain and (certainly in economic terms) troubled present. As another reviewer has pointed out, Thubron's take on Siberia might be overly negative given that it's informed purely by the places he went to and the people he met. However, I for one don't doubt that his account is faithful to what he personally experienced, and you really couldn't make some of this stuff up.

It comes across as a land of extrmes, then, but in this measured and memorable book at least you will find it a rewarding place to visit on the page, and will be glad of the chance to get beyond the few enduring popular cliches that cling to Siberia.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse| Permalink
What's this?

What are product links?

In the text of your review, you can link directly to any product offered on Amazon.com. To insert a product link, follow these steps:
1. Find the product you want to reference on Amazon.com
2. Copy the web address of the product
3. Click Insert product link
4. Paste the web address in the box
5. Click Select
6. Selecting the item displayed will insert text that looks like this: [[ASIN:014312854XHamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)]]
7. When your review is displayed on Amazon.com, this text will be transformed into a hyperlink, like this:Hamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)

You are limited to 10 product links in your review, and your link text may not be longer than 256 characters.