Notes From Self-Imposed Siberian Exile

Book review: The Consolations of the Forest, by Sylvain Tesson (Amazon / Book Depository) I’d promised myself that before I turned forty I would live as a hermit deep in the woods. I wanted to settle an old score with time. French author Sylvain Tesson felt an itch familiar to many: to escape the stress of modern city life, to retreat to the middle of … Continue reading Notes From Self-Imposed Siberian Exile

A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again

Book review: In Putin’s Footsteps, by Nina Khrushcheva and Jeffrey Tayler (Amazon / Book Depository) The new stories were no longer those of Yeltsin’s Russia, which was perceived, both at home and abroad, as a weak, insignificant, and corrupt bogeyman reeling from its Cold War defeat. These were stories of an enigmatic young technocrat tirelessly crisscrossing the country and meeting with workers, farmers, and cultural … Continue reading A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again

Myth-busting Rasputin’s Life and Legend

Book review: Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs by Douglas Smith (Amazon / Book Depository) The life of Rasputin is one of the most remarkable in modern history. It reads like a dark fairy tale. An obscure, uneducated peasant from the wilds of Siberia receives a calling from God and sets out in search of the true faith, a journey that leads him across … Continue reading Myth-busting Rasputin’s Life and Legend

Narrating Stalin’s Terror: The Beginning of Eugenia Ginzburg’s Journey

Book review: Journey into the Whirlwind, by Eugenia Semyonovna Ginzburg I opened the door briskly, with the boldness of despair. If you are to jump over a cliff, better take a run at it and not pause on the brink to look back at the lovely world you are leaving behind. Eugenia Ginzburg’s memoir of her arrest in 1937 on charges that eventually became “terrorism” … Continue reading Narrating Stalin’s Terror: The Beginning of Eugenia Ginzburg’s Journey

Scenes from a House in Ekaterinburg in July, 100 Years Ago

Book review: Last Days of the Romanovs, by Helen Rappaport Book Depository Russian historian Helen Rappaport writes a tightly focused, streamlined account of the last two weeks that the family of Nicholas Romanov was alive, held captive at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in Siberia, a building known by its very Soviet name as the “House of Special Purpose”. 100 years ago last month, the … Continue reading Scenes from a House in Ekaterinburg in July, 100 Years Ago

Red Weather Reports: Art and Memories from Siberia

Book review: Stalin’s Meteorologist, by Olivier Rolin (Amazon / Book Depository) I have not glossed over Alexey Feodosievich’s faults, when I was aware of them. I have not sought to turn him into an exemplary hero. He was neither a scientific genius nor a great poet, he was in many ways an ordinary man, but he was innocent. In 2012, French author Olivier Rolin discovered … Continue reading Red Weather Reports: Art and Memories from Siberia

A Voice from the Gulag

Book review: The Day Will Pass Away, by Ivan Chistyakov (Amazon / Book Depository) So even my inner word recedes day by day into eternity until it reaches freezing point. You start believing they can make you lose all emotion. Yet every day brings you nearer to freedom. Only, what kind of path are you walking to get there? A path of defeats, misery and rage. A path that … Continue reading A Voice from the Gulag

Russia Through The Lens of Chelyabinsk

Book review: Putin Country, by Anne Garrels (Amazon / Book Depository) “When the meteor hit Chelyabinsk, it blazed across the sky, spewed out its shards, and then sank quietly into a lake. That’s what many hoped the breakup of the Soviet Union would be like. It would end with a compliant Russia as benign as the rock that is now sitting in Chelyabinsk’s museum. That has not occurred. … Continue reading Russia Through The Lens of Chelyabinsk

An American’s Insights into Russia, 1995-2005-2015

Book review: Bears in the Streets, by Lisa Dickey Amazon No fewer than six people in six different cities (and four different time zones) had informed me that this is what Americans think. “Bears in the streets,” I realized, was the apparently ubiquitous shorthand for the Russians’ feeling that the West doesn’t take them seriously enough – that we think they’re primitive or backward. Lifelong Russophile … Continue reading An American’s Insights into Russia, 1995-2005-2015

Trekking the Urals for a Soviet Mystery

Book review: Dead Mountain, by Donnie Eichar Book Depository In February 1959, nine experienced hikers died under mysterious circumstances on a cross-country ski trip in the Ural Mountains. They were university students, longtime friends, and accustomed to the harsh conditions and remote, exerting atmosphere of hiking and skiing during winter at the border of Siberia. When search parties were dispatched to the region, some distance from … Continue reading Trekking the Urals for a Soviet Mystery

Tigers in the Wild: Observations from Siberia

Book review: Great Soul of Siberia, by Sooyong Park (Amazon / Book Depository) Back in 2010, I read a book so good that even while I was reading it I knew it was going to be hard to top. It was around the time I was shifting to reading primarily nonfiction, and John Vaillant’s The Tiger was influential in my making that shift. I remember staying home on a … Continue reading Tigers in the Wild: Observations from Siberia