Shelby (Hamden CT)
Bone up on your Russian history!
Although dense with history and visits to all the "stans" this book gives very good reason to consider the position of the US in foreign affairs.
The author travels from Moscow to Beiing speaking to the locals about their political views and the insights are stunning.
I found it very interesting as someone who is unfamiliar with this part of the world but would recommend you acquaint yourself with Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union before you read it. Each person seems to come from a different ethnic group and references to them can be very confusing.
It's worth the read though if only for the feel you get of each place.
Ann (Baltimore MD)
Murderers in Mausoleums
This is a wonderful description of a trip the author takes from Moscow to Beijing, through southern Russia, the "Stans" and western China. The author's amazing language skills allow him to interact with the people he meets along the way, giving the reader a remarkable window into what is going on in a region that is largely off our radar screens. I was fascinated, torn between the book, Google Earth, and my trusty atlas. Highly recommended for those armchair travelers who like to go off the beaten path.
Nancy (Hobe Sound FL)
Murderers in Mausoleums
Jeffrey Tayler has written a fine work of nonfiction that spells out the future of not only Eurasia, but of the west as well. In many ways, it's a bit frightening, and his book was written before the recent events in Russia that seem to make what he says very believable. His work should not be overlooked by people who are interested in the current goings on in the former USSR, and maybe it should be sent to a few of our politicians as well. He's a fine writer, reporting what he sees and hears and coming to some startling conclusions. I'd definitely recommend it.
Gunta (Glens Falls NY)
History and Geography All in One
It is the most comprehensive book on Russia I have ever read, in English.
If one has been harboring a desire to travel through Mother Russia of long ago, as well as, experience the current Russia, after the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991 but has been afraid to do so because of language barriers , this is the guide. Armed with this book and a good map, a dictionary of all languages and dialects of Russia, all is possible.
This is the largest land mass on our planet. All climates, all terrains, all levels of education, all levels of ignorance due to what we know as civilization having not touched some of these people since the days of Genghis Khan.
Jeffrey Tayler starts his journey by train in Moscow. He covers all nations and peoples from that point to Beijing, China. The boundaries, histories and peoples of Chechna, the Tatars, the Yakuts, the Ingus.The lands and history of the Kazaks are discussed at great length. The Greeks brought Christianity to the people of Ossetia and the Georgians. Facts such as: the Ural River being the waterway that to Russian tradition divides Europe from Asia. Descriptions of Suleyman Mountain and Kyrgyzstan's Capital Osh. Mention of many writers on the classic list of Russia's elite, such as Turgenev, Pushkin, Lermontov and most interesting the ballet dancer Boris Gudonov having been born a Tatar. Aside from these little tidbits of history and geography "Murderers in Mausoleums" holds a wealth of information useful to the amateur or the serious scholar of Russia, its former satellites and current crop of countries seceaded from Soviet Union. The book also has a chapter on Karaganda the architecturally ugly site built by the Soviets and even more ugly in human decadence of the soul, a place that was used as a Gulag during the Soviet Regime. Many interesting interviews and conversations between Jeffrey Tayler and young people he meets in his travels and throughout it all the marvelous feeling that one is not reading a dry travelog but a novel with sensual characters and history celebrating the spirit and traditions of a great people.
I recommend this book to anyone whois interested in Russia and its history from the time of Genghis Khan to the present.
Chet (Las Vegas NV)
Perception & Reality
Jeffrey Tayler is a brave social demographer. A recent headline in the NYT noted that "2 More Journalists Are Attacked in Caucasus", Tayler's area of travel.
This is an enjoyable light read with anecdotal stories of ethnic middle easterner's perception of the past and present.
Paul Thoreaux allegedly said that the most interesting travel stories are "...the stories about a trip that make a drama--an ordeal--out of something pretty banal...". Tayler gives the reader some of that drama in his adventures in the Caucasus. He gives his stories some credibility by being an American living in Russia and speaking or understanding a number of middle eastern languages.
"Murderers in Mausoleums" is a striking commentary on the damage that President Bush has done to America's international reputation at a country citizen's level of understanding.
It is also a topical explanation of how ethnic diversity is a critical factor in influencing history's course and people's memories and perceptions of famous and infamous leaders.
Jean (Worcester MA)
Murderers in Mausoleums
Jeffrey Tayler takes a trip, a very educational trip.
One that introduces us to the lives and beliefs of a
group of people , who for the most part, are
unknown to Westerners.Tayler, through skillful
questioning and experienced observation, makes us a partner on this journey. We feel the cold,
perspire in the desert and begin to understand
why the peoples of these areas believe as they do.
We come away from this book realizing we must
rethink our world position, and ignore this area
of the world at our own peril.This is a thought provoking book that should be part of school reading assignments and a choice of Book Clubs.