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Brothers on the Bashkaus: A Siberian Paddling Adventure Paperback – March 9, 2007

9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...not only adventure at its finest, but an example of real friendships extending international borders." -- Armchair Interviews, November, 2007

A fascinating insider's story of an authentic Siberian opens the door to a whole different world of whitewater. -- American Whitewater, July/August, 2007

Brothers on the Bashkaus ventures into more intriguing territory surrounding the culture and climate of remote, post-Soviet Russia. -- Westword, May 7, 2007

Thoughtfully filled with pictures, this should be required reading for all whitewater paddlers. -- Rocky Moutain News, May 4, 2007

terrified one minute and laughing your ass off the might find yourself staying up all night to finish it. -- Wend Magazine, February, 2007

From the Publisher

This riveting memoir follows the exploits of four Americans and ten Latvians on a white-knuckled trip down the Bashkaus River, one of the hardest whitewater runs in all of Siberia. Casting aside cultural differences and relying on improbably homemade equipment, these men tackle the journey together as brothers.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing (March 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555916082
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555916084
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eugene Buchanan is the editorinchief of Paddling Life magazine and was the former publisher and editorinchief of Paddler magazine. He is also a freelance writer for national magazines such as Outside, National Geographic Adventure, Men's Journal, and many others. A member of New York's prestigious Explorers Club, he is an avid adventurer with several first descents to his credit. His passion for traveling, writing, and paddling has taken him to more than 30 countries on six continents. Buchanan lives in Steamboat, Colorado, with his wife and two daughers, a block away from the Yampa River, the last remaining freeflowing tributary of the Colorado River.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul E. Richardson VINE VOICE on October 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
It has been a long dry spell for armchair travel books on Russia. Certainly many such works have been published over the past decade. The problem is that most have been eminently missable.

This book breaks that drought.

You do not have to have an interest in kayaking, rafting or Class V rivers to enjoy Buchanan's account of four Americans' and ten Latvians' trip down one of Siberia's wildest rivers. You simply have to love a good travel story: plans gone awry, hilarious characters met on the road, the clash of cultures, nail-biting adventure and the thrill of new experiences.

When the Americans are told to leave behind their custom-crafted raft (instead, they will build rafts from scratch at their drop-in point, with pontoons made from repurposed germ warfare suits - reuse is the Latvian team's specialty)... when they compare their smoothly stylish life jackets with the grotesque but eminently more effective homemade ones of their Latvian hosts (including one made with soccer balls)... when the hapless Americans bristle under the authoritarian food rationing of the mighty Olga... you almost wish you were along for the ride. Almost. For this crew of 14 will descend from high in the Altai mountains through some of the world's most treacherous rapids, on rafts made from trees they cut themselves, living off the land for over a month, paddling with homemade oars and eating all too much salo (pig fat).

This journey is assuredly more enjoyable from an armchair and surely one of the best travel stories out of Russia in many many years. (Reviewed in Russian Life)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on June 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
"When the language barrier could mean life or death, trust is essential..."

Eugene and three white water companions are hyped up and on their way to Siberia to run a river with international cohorts. When they arrive they are greeted by three unknown Russian rafters who just seem to take over their lives. Communication is difficult, and at best, a bit of broken English is spoken.

The group the Americans intended to meet is unavoidably detained by weather conditions, and is unable to participate. The Russians invite the Americans to join them on their trip down the Bashkaus River. When they are shown movies of the river, it is more dangerous than they had planned to run. Several of the rapids are class V and some class VI (extremely dangerous). After several unsuccessful attempts to contact their planned partners, the Americans decide to join the trip down the Bashkaus--a choice they later question on more than one occasion.

Getting off to a "rough start" doesn't even describe the challenges they endure just trying to reach the drop-off point. Struggling with the language, unfamiliar customs, carrying their gear, and undependable transportation, are just the beginning.

Finally they set off down the river on homemade Russian rafts. All team members are assigned responsibilities. Confidence between the teams is a bit unstable. But as they face the power of the Bashkaus, uniting for the good of the team, a brotherhood of the river starts to grow.

When the common goal to best the Bashkaus becomes frightening, even terrifying at times, quick thinking and sharp minds are essential. The Americans experience the art of survival in a very different way while cooking, food rationing, foraging, and improvising with what is available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Miles Defeyter on July 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be an exciting tail beginning to end. Brothers of the Bashkaus is as much about a white water adventure as it is about a social roller coaster with traveling partners of completely different backgrounds. Eugene Buchanan opens up a window into Russian culture like few have before and shows us how different and yet the same we really are.

I truly enjoyed this book.
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Format: Paperback
First things first - if you love paddling and adventure - you will enjoy this book. But there is so much more to the fabric of the story. We all hear about teamwork and "we need to be a team" whether it is in our work, school, sports team or even our communities. Buchanan has done a masterful job of describing real team and teamwork in action. This should be required reading for any business team, high school hockey club or any group on which the welfare of the individual rest on the welfare of the group (and whether we like to admit it or not, that really is how most organizations really work).

Completely lacking judgmental tones, he weaves in rich descriptions of the team concept utilized by the Latvian rafters of which Buchanan and his group of American paddlers become a part of. Their survival depended upon it. Big water rafting is inherently dangerous in its own right, but the sheer scale and ferocity of the Bashkaus, and its location ensured that there was no safety net for the American adventurers or their hosts. Although the cultural contrasts are sharp it is the human spirit for adventure, survival and accomplishment that comes forth and formed a solid team, even with a significant language barrier. If this group of real life adventurers had practiced individualism, fractured leadership, disparate objectives, and hubris over informed judgment, then I am sure no one would be around to have written this story.

If you are in a team, or need to get groups working together, get everyone to read the book and have a discussion about what it is to be a team - I'll bet your stumbling blocks will seem mild in comparison to what the Bashkaus dishes out.
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