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In Siberia - Colin Thubron

Penguin, 2000, Paperback.
Condition: Very Good.

At 58, Thubron had already lived 10 years longer than the average Siberian when he made his 15,000 mile trip and was as much a novelty to locals as they were to him. Until 1991, foreigners were only allowed along the Trans-Siberian railway. Now all is open, as Thubron writes: "The exhilaration of freedom never quite left me." In In Siberia he searches for the "core of Siberia"--a difficult quest in a land mass larger than the USA and Europe combined. Siberia is Russia's wild east--pillaged by the Cossacks for furs, later populated by exiles and prisoners, who diluted the native culture of hunters and Mongol-Turkish nomadic tribes. Thubron travels from unknown town to unknown town, hunting at sunset for shelter. Some of it is as bad as you would fear--endless, uninhabitable, treeless tundra, frozen solid eight months a year. There are ghostly gulag towns like Vorkuta with its smoke stacks, "black detritus", and death camps where prisoners worked 12 hours a day, living in minus 40 until death (usually two weeks).He finds grim broken-down people living only for vodka, freedom having escaped them again. "Scarce jobs and high prices were the new slave masters." At other times In Siberia is more surprising--the rebirth of Christianity and eager building of monasteries; Mongol shamans; the 2,500,000- year-old mummified remains of a princess; sweaty 85 degree temperatures; Akademogorodok, an abandoned science city where a lone professor experiments with cosmic consciousness. 304pp.


This one has already found a new owner.