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The Other Side of Russia: A Slice of Life in Siberia and the Russian Far East / Edition 1

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Travel to postSoviet Siberia and the Russian Far East with author Sharon Hudgins as she takes readers on a personal adventure through the Asian side of Russia—an area closed to most Westerners and many Russians prior to the 1990s. Even today, few people from the West have ridden the TransSiberian railroad in winter, stood on the frozen surface of Lake Baikal, feasted with the Siberian Buryats, or lived in the "highrise villages" of Vladivostok and Irkutsk.

One of the few American women who has lived and worked in this part of the world, Hudgins debunks many of the myths and misconceptions that surround this "other side of Russia." She artfully depicts the details of everyday life, set within their cultural and historical context—local customs, foods, and festivals, as well as urban life, the education system, and the developing market economy in postSoviet Siberia and the Russian Far East.

Hudgin's prose shines in her colorful descriptions of multicourse meals washed down with champagne and vodka, often eaten by candlelight when the electricity failed. The author's accounts of hors d'oeuvres made of sea slugs and roulades of raw horse liver will fascinate those with adventuresome tastes, while her stories of hosting Spanish, French, and TexMex feasts will come as a surprise to anyone who thinks of Russia as a gastronomic wasteland.

Readers of The Other Side of Russia: A Slice of Life in Siberia and the Russian Far East will find themselves among the guests at Christmas parties, New Year's banquets, Easter dinners, and birthday celebrations. They will experience the challenges of living in highrise apartment buildings often lacking water, heat, and electricity. Above all, Asian Russia's natural beauty, thriving cities, and proud people shine from the pages, proving it is not only a land of harsh winters and vast uninhabited spaces, but also home to millions of Russian citizens who live and work in modern metropolises and enjoy a rich cultural and social life.

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Editorial Reviews

Helen Hundley
“Like Hedrick Smith’s The Russians, Sharon Hudgins’ The Other Side of Russia, takes the reader inside Russia, to the daily life of people, and the economic and political realities in the post-Soviet era. It goes well beyond being a travelogue, and provides insight well beyond the confines of Siberia. A great read.”--Helen Hundley
Larry McMurtry
“Sharon Hudgins has written a vivid and engrossing book about a part of the world that’s both geographically and ethnically complex. She’s done much to make the unfamiliar familiar.” --Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Alfred Friendly
“Sharon Hudgins’ perceptive memoir of survival in modern Siberia is full of anecdote, conversation, humor, food, friendships and hardships. In a society that, she reports, “placed little value on truth,” she kept her eyes and notebook and mind open. The result is an animated examination of grim, grimy, and unpredictably gracious ordinary life in the extraordinary place she calls Absurdistan.” --Alfred Friendly, Jr. Co-author, Ecocide in the USSR, and former Newsweek Mosc
Victor L. Mote
"Chapter 7, entitled 'The High-Rise Village,' is an instant classic in the literature on Russia. This is a wonderful book that has something for will entertain everyone from lay persons to Slavic scholars."--Victor L. Mote, University of Houston and author of Siberia: Worlds Apart
E. J. Vajda
"As an eyewitness portrayal of Russia's East during the first years of the post-communist era, this book is destined to become a key primary description of social change in an often forgotten region of the world. Highly recommended."--E. J. Vajda, Western Washington University
From The Critics
. . . Hudgins mingles her insights with useful explanations about the history and development of these regions. . . . Readers will enjoy Hudgins's lively narrative style and the inclusion of photographs.—Olga B. Wise
Library Journal
Siberia? The Russian Far East? Who would travel there by choice and survive to tell the tale? At least that's the popular notion of travel and life in this remote part of the Russian Federation. Hudgins works to dispel this concept and gives us insight into the people, history, and geography of a part of the world rarely visited by Westerners, much less Americans. In 1993, Hudgins (Russian studies) and her husband Tom (economics) were tasked by the European Division of the University of Maryland's University College to set up degree programs and teach in the urban centers of Vladivostok (Russian Far East) and Irkutsk (Siberia). During their two years of work there, they traveled extensively throughout the region (including several trips on the Trans-Siberian railroad and excursions to Lake Baikal). Rather than focus on only the pleasures and inconveniences of daily life, Hudgins mingles her insights with useful explanations about the history and development of these regions, almost 6000 miles from the capital, Moscow. Readers will enjoy Hudgins's lively narrative style and the inclusion of photographs. An excellent bibliographic essay closes the book and gives suggestions for further reading. Recommended for larger history and travel collections in public and academic libraries.-Olga B. Wise, Austin, TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

An award winning food and travel writer, Sharon Hudgins taught for the University of Maryland University College in Germany, Spain, Greece, Japan, Korea, and Russia. She served as an administrator for the university's two undergraduate degree programs in Siberia and the Russian Far East. Hudgins currently resides in the United States with her husband, Tom.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2007

    Read this Book!

    I really liked this, and have recommended it to my friends.

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