In Siberia Summary
An enormous and mysterious land, Siberia remains an exotic unknown that has haunted the imagination of Westerners for centuries. Colin Thubron takes us into the heart of Siberia on a journey of discovery from Mongolia to the Arctic Circle, from Rasputin's village in the west through tundra, taiga, splendid mountains, lakes and rivers to the derelict Jewish community in Birobidzhan in the far eastern reaches of the region. More than a travel book, In Siberia is a moving and profound portrait of a region rich with history (and the remains of an intriguing prehistorical past), religions, and a profusion of fascinating peoples and cultures.
Traveling alone, by train, boat, car, and on foot, Thubron explores this vast territory, talking to anyone he can find about the state of the country today and what it is like to live there. He finds a land of spectacular natural beauty, marked by the horrors of the Gulag and Soviet exploitation of its abundant natural resources. Beneath the permafrost, all too near the surface, lie bones and nuclear waste. And yet in counterpoise to the horror is the extraordinary human compassion he encounters: Wherever he goes, somebody takes him in and feeds him, no matter how poor they are. Perhaps the "core to Siberia" for which Thubron is searching turns out to be an unshakeable desire to believe, a quintessentially Russian hopefulness that is born of faith. Thubron traces it from Dostoevsky through the wreckage of communism to present day Siberia where it appears under other names.