Rated of 5
by 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.