Sunday, October 2, 2011

Russia: Part II

Part two of my two part list of Russia books.  Weighted heavily toward Siberia but this may be appropriate in proportion to of Siberia's to the rest of Russia

1.  Tent Life in Siberia: and Adventures Among the Koraks and other Tribes in Kamtchatka and Northern Asia, George Kennan (1870).  At age 20, Kennan, contracted with a an American telegraph company to  build a telegraph line across Siberia in the 1860s.  The telegraph line was never completed but his resulting account is a detailed travelogue about local customs, language, customs, Siberian tribes, volcanoes of Russia's most remote regions.  He traveled Siberia with wandering natives on dogsleds living in yurts and eating local foods, starving at times, camping under snowdrifts at fifty below zero.  Cousin to George Kennan, the Father of Containment.  See also Exiles and Gulags...for another of this books on the Russian Exile system.  

This is one of my most prized books--partly because I've invested so heavily in it.  Found this as a first edition at the Alexandria Unitarian Church book sale for $4 but spend a small fortune with a book binder on fully restoring its binding.  Deep blue cloth with gold leaf etching on cover of what resembles a plains Indian tepee and lettering on the spine.  Image below is of reprint.  

2.  Off the Map: Bicycling Across Siberia, Mark Jenkins (1992).  In 1989, Jenkins crossed Russia from west to east by bicycle, via Vladivostok to Leningrad. His group crosses an 800-mile swamp and climbs passes over the Ural mountains.  Black and white photos.  Bought used but can't remember where.

3.  On Sledge and Horseback to Outcast Siberian Lepers, Kate Marsden (2001).  Never judge a book by its cover--well, I bought this one based on the title alone.   An account of English nurse who traveled to Siberia to help a Leper colony in the early 1890s.  Bought at the State Department book store.  

4.  John Ledyard's Journey Through Russia and Siberia 1787-1788, The Journal and Selected Letters, Stephen Watrous Ed. (1966).   Ledyard was considered one of America's gifted explorers traveling with Captain Cook in the Pacific, he also attempted to cross North America before Lewis and Clark.  In 1786, he traveled to Russia to seek approval from Catherine the Great to map Russia to its Pacific coast.  For mysterious reasons, as he was in the midst of Siberia, he was called back and expelled.  Nonetheless, he left behind a detailed account.  Illustrations, pictures and etchings.  Bought used at the State  Department book store.

5.  The Shaman's Coat:  A Native History of Siberia, Anna Reid (2002).   Reid tells the story of remote tribes for Siberia--nationalities that most of us have never heard of-- Buryats, Tuvans, Sakha and Chucki.  Closer in relation to Native Americans, the Communist state tried to forcibly assimilate them.  Book covers 400 years of their history and contains color and black and white photos as well as Communist propaganda posters.  Bought new. 

6.  Trans-Siberian Railway: A Classic Overland Route, Lonely Planet (2002).    Had it been in existence in my high school days, this would have been the perfect book to encourage my friends to take that trans-Siberian rail journey I concocted.  Well organized and concise.  Bought used at BJ's Books in Warrenton, VA. 

7.  Dersu the Trapper: A True Account, V.K. Arseniev (1941).  Considered a classic in Russian folk lore.  Set in Russia's Pacific northeast.  A Russian cross between the Journals of Lewis and Clark the Leather stocking Tales.   A Christmas gift.  

8.  One Hundred Siberian Postcards, Richard Wirick (2006).  I have yet to read this one but it was the product of travel to Siberia by a couple who adopt a baby girl.  Bought used in a London flea market.  

9.  Russia: Land of Intriuge, Fances Harris Owens (1980).  A privately printed account by a Washington, DC native.  Bought used in the Warrenton Library book store.  Inscribed "To Mrs. and Mrs. Jessie Surles, with very best wishes," signed by the author.  

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