Siberian Odyssey: A Voyage into the Russian Soul

Siberian Odyssey: A Voyage into the Russian Soul

by Frederick Kempe

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wall Street Journal correspondent Kempe ( Divorcing the Dictator: America's Bungled Affair with Manuel Noriega ) has seen things no American heretofore has, but that's only part of the hold of this superb journal of a five-week summer trip through Siberia just before the abortive Moscow coup. Kempe is a seasoned journalist and precise writer, and the book is brisk, evocative and telling. In company with three Western journalists, two Greenpeace scientists, local interpreters and assorted Russians--one a troublesome member of the Supreme Soviet--Kempe traveled via helicopter and riverboat. Since the expedition was organized to be journalistic and ecological, and carried a letter of safe passage from the KGB--and because the author is obviously tenacious--Kempe was allowed to visit Tomsk 7, a self-contained city where nuclear weapons material is produced, although he was refused access to the reactors. He also stopped at vast industrial areas where the pollution is so severe that half of all newborns have chronic illnesses; and he spent time with Gulag veterans and aboriginal Siberians, including nomads who herd reindeer 100 miles above the Arctic Circle. With no pretense to finding the ``Russian soul,'' Kemp makes vivid the populace's self-defeating acceptance of sudba , or fate, and its repressed anger at the Communist lie, as well as his compassion for ``a people who had been so anaesthetized by suffering and exhausted by hardships that they had lost much of the spirit they needed for the free market and democracy.'' Photos not seen by PW . (July)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Kempe ( Divorcing the Dictator: America's Bungled Affair with Manuel Noriega , Putnam, 1990) travels the Ob River in Siberia at a pivotal point in Russian history. He is one of the first Westerners allowed into this formerly forbidden zone. Siberia is a raw and beautiful land, the source of Russia's hope for a vital economic future due to its abundance of natural resources. Kempe speaks to a broad spectrum of people, from coal miners to KGB agents, many of whom have never seen an American before. Some are embracing their country's changes wholeheartedly, others are resisting with the same fervor. There is a humor and warmth to be found in the people Kempe visits, that readers will find touching. One of Kempe's translators claims this personality trait is the ``Russian'' side of the people, as compared with the suspicious and fearful ``Soviet'' side. This wonderful snapshot of a mysterious people is highly recommended for travel collections.-- Lisa J. Cochenet, Rhinelander Dist. Lib., Wis.
Alice Joyce
Kempe's distinguished career as a foreign correspondent most recently called him to Berlin as "Wall Street Journal"'s bureau chief. While there he hooked up with an international expedition formed to journey along a route following the Ob River through the vast, harsh Siberian landscape. Witnessing noxious pollution, jazz Siberian-style, and alcoholism run rampant, the author focused his energies on interviews with dwindling groups of indigenous peoples attempting to survive the Russian onslaught upon their land and themselves. But it was his talks with scores of survivors from among those who had been imprisoned and tortured for imaginary crimes during Stalin's relentless purges that got Kempe himself suspected of being a CIA operative by Soviet authorities keeping tabs on his group as it traversed the province. This thoughtful, informative record provides a penetrating look at the push-pull of change within Russia as it was occurring just days before the Moscow coup attempt against Gorbachev.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
20.00(w) x 20.00(h) x 20.00(d)

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