Imperium

( 1 )

Overview

The Polish journalist whose The Soccer War and The Emperor are counted as classics of contemporary reportage now bears witness in Imperium to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. This magisterial book combines childhood memory with unblinking journalism, a radar for the truth with a keen appreciation of the absurd.

Imperium begins with Ryszard Kapuscinski's account of the Soviet occupation of his town in eastern Poland in 1939. It culminates fifty years later, with a ...

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Imperium

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Overview

The Polish journalist whose The Soccer War and The Emperor are counted as classics of contemporary reportage now bears witness in Imperium to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. This magisterial book combines childhood memory with unblinking journalism, a radar for the truth with a keen appreciation of the absurd.

Imperium begins with Ryszard Kapuscinski's account of the Soviet occupation of his town in eastern Poland in 1939. It culminates fifty years later, with a forty-thousand-mile journey that takes him from the haunted corridors of the Kremlin to the abandoned gulag of Kolyma, from a miners' strike in the arctic circle to a panic-stricken bus ride through the war-torn Caucasus.

Out of passivity and paranoia, ethnic hatred and religious fanaticism that have riven two generations of Eastern Europeans, Kapuscinski has composed a symphony for a collapsing empire—a work that translates history into the hopes and sufferings of the human beings condemned to live it.

Between 1989 and 1991, the acclaimed author of The Soccer War traveled 40,000 miles throughout the rapidly fragmenting Soviet Union. Kapuscinski weaves the personal and historical account into one galvanizing narrative as he describes the collapse of an empire and its profound toll on the land and its people.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Kapuscinski is a transcendental journalist. . . . He begins with appearances, for which he has uncommon gifts of poetry, irony and paradox, and clambers down them into essences. . . .He is writing about the whale from inside its belly."
Los Angeles Times

"Kapuscinski is an enchanting guide, combining boundless stamina, felicitous writing, childish curiosity and the literate authority of a true intellectual. . . . There are treasures in this book. . . .It is a triumphant combination of bleak history and black comedy."
The New York Times Book Review

"When our children's children want to study the cruelties of the late twentieth century . . . when they wonder why revolution after revolution betrayed its promises hrough greed, fear and confusion, they should read Ryszard Kapuscinski."
Wall Street Journal

"A compelling and convincing narrative that examines the extensive damage done to entire nations, the human psyche and the physical environment....This is a devastating picture of Russia [that] penetrates deeply into the depressing truths of 70 years of Soviet rule, the borders, the fear, the inhumanity.... His portrait of the 'Imperium' is tragic, but ever so true."
—Professor Thomas R. Beyer, Jr., Middlebury College, The Boston Globe

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Journalist Kapuscinski The Soccer War wandered across the Soviet Union from 1989 to 1991. His rewarding, sharply observed travelogue illuminates the tragedy of 20th-century Soviet history and the positive forces struggling against demoralization, poverty, rising crime and a government/military/KGB bureaucracy entrenched amid the disintegration of ``the last colonial empire on earth.'' He describes his return to Pinsk, his Polish hometown that is now part of Byelorussia, which Soviet troops invaded in 1939 when he was seven, killing or deporting almost the entire intelligentsia. With mordant irony and photographic vividness, Kapuscinski journeys from the streets of Moscow to Siberia and across the Central Asian republics, meeting people from all walks of life and pondering the difficulty of democratizing a crumbling empire created through centuries of conquest and annexation. These dispatches from the borderline of Soviet catastrophe make compelling reading. Author tour. Sept.
Library Journal
Journalist and author of several critically acclaimed books, among them The Soccer War (LJ 4/15/91), Kapus'cin'ski here chronicles the life of the Soviet Union. He divides his book into three sections: "First Encounters (1939-1967)"; "From a Bird's-Eye View (1989-1991)"; and "The Sequel Continues (1992-1993)." As such, he covers the relative zenith and dramatic decline of the one-time superpower. Movingly written, eloquently translated, and replete with literary nuances, Imperium is thought-provoking and fascinating. The subject matter is vast, but Kapus'cin'ski manages to provide enough detail to satisfy inquisitive readers while at the same time not creating a burdensome work. Because of his keen attention to detail, historical knowledge, and powerful writing skills, Kapus'cin'ski's Imperium is a chilling and enthralling record of the decline of an empire and the brutality and inhumanity that frequently characterized it. Highly recommended.-Joseph P. Parsons, Columbia Coll., Chicago
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679747802
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: 1 VINTAGE
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 581,654
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Ryszard Kapuscinski was born in eastern Poland in 1932. His earlier books, which include Shah of Shahs, The Emperor, and The Soccer War, have been translated into nineteen languages. He died in January of 2007.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2002

    The best study on Russian Empire ever written

    It is just excellent, absolutely breath-taking book. It'll show you Russia throughout the history and you'll see Russia through Russian people's eyes the way so you will understand their mentality, the Eastern melancholia and everything that might have been so strange or impossible to understand before. Beautiful, powerful book that tells you a story of Russian Empire in its cruel, great and poor times. Fascinating!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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