In Siberia: Book summary and reviews of In Siberia by Colin Thubron

In Siberia

By Colin Thubron

In Siberia
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2000,
    286 pages.

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Book 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Many adventurers plunge into Siberia in search of untrammeled roads or unspoiled grandeur; only a handful bring with them a significant knowledge of the land's history, geology and wildlife. Even rarer are those who relay the experience as magically as does this award-winning author." - Publishers Weekly.

"In this powerful, final volume of his trilogy on the Asian continent, veteran travel writer Thubron traverses all points of the compass in Russia's vast, sparsely settled Wild East." - Library Journal.

"No single book can capture the enormity or the "otherness" of Siberia, but this one comes close. Thubron's travel books and novels have been widely appreciated for years in Britain, and it's easy to see why." - Booklist.

"As a landscape, Thubrons Siberia is indifferently magnificent; as a place, it is furtive, luckless, crime-ridden, a world where the past is fast rotting and new foundations have yet to be poured." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Author Information

Colin Thubron Author Biography

Photo: Page Bertelsen Photography

Award-winning travel writer and novelist Colin Thubron was born in London on 14 June 1939. Educated at Eton College, he worked briefly for the publishers Hutchinson, and as a freelance television film-maker in Turkey, Japan and Morocco. His first three books were about the Middle East: Mirror to Damascus, was published in 1967 and is still considered one of the best books on the Syrian capital; The Hills of Adonis: A Quest in Lebanon (1968) and Jerusalem (1969).

Among the Russians (1983) describes a journey he made by car through western Russia during the Brezhnev era. Behind the Wall: A Journey through China (1987) won both the Hawthornden Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. The Lost Heart of Asia (1994) narrates his travels through the newly-independent central Asian ...

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