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Comment: Condition: Very good condition., Binding: Paperback / Publisher: Scribner / Pub. Date: 2006-08-29 Attributes: Book, 288 pp / Stock#: 2064463 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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Lost Cosmonaut: Observations of an Anti-Tourist Paperback – August 29, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743289943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743289948
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,900,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Kalder tells a passenger on a train to Kazan, the capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, that he and his friends are just tourists, she's convinced he's either stupid or lying. After all, who would willingly visit what turns out to be "a fairly sleepy provincial Russian city distinguished by a big mosque" and a McDonald's? But Kalder, a Scottish writer living in the former Soviet Union, is fascinated by the rundown "pseudo-countries" we never hear about in the news, believing them to be symbolic of all humanity. His "appetite for black holes" eventually leads to further travels in Kalmykia, Mari El and Udmurtia. Unfortunately, while his rhetorical enthusiasm remains strong throughout, a certain repetitiveness creeps in. Kalder wanders around the depressingly grim surroundings, cobbles together whatever cultural facts he can find online and has mostly frustrating encounters with the locals ("I don't much like talking to people"). And while his real-life misadventures, like a visit to a sacred pagan grove with a high priest he meets through a mail-order bride distributor, are outlandish enough, he still engages in distracting fabrications and daydreams. Kalder's refusal to set himself up as an international expert is admirable, but his depiction of the remote republics of a "shadow Europe" remains uneven. B&w photos throughout. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Adhering to an "anti-tourist" manifesto that demands the pursuit of the obscure and the bizarre, as well as an acceptance of hardships, Scottish-born Kalder reports on his travels through Eastern European republics little known and rarely visited by outsiders, for example, Tatarstan, Kalmykia, Mari El, and Udmurtia. Kalder lingers over cultural oddities such as Peter the Great's collection of embalmed dead babies, and does an extensive job of interlinking his detailed observations of each place to the larger world. In fact, so focused is he on miniscule facts, they overrun the narrative. Still, Kalder's adventures are daring and make for exciting reading, and he is witty and outspoken enough to raise eyebrows. Yet for all the can-you-believe-it? descriptions and hip commentary, the "why" is missing, the traveler's analysis that enriches the best of travel writing. But even this lack of dimension doesn't keep Kalder's tales of anti-tourist wanderings from being cool, wry, lively, and fun. Mark Eleveld
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

This book is laugh-out-loud funny!
D. Smith
And as a passionate traveler who wants to see as much as possible before it all changes, I thought that Kalder's "anti-tourist" perspective would be agreeable.
Christopher Culver
As a traveler who has been just about everywhere I found this book very interesting.
Anthony J Sullivan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Humphries on August 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
Did you know there was a Buddhist republic in Europe? And a desert for that matter? Or a pagan republic? Russia stretches from Eastern Europe to Alaska and contains many semi-autonomous republics - they have their own presidents, their own TV stations, their own heroes and legends and, of course, their own corruption, brutality, and cities dedicated to chess. They just don't have tourists.

Kalder sets out as an 'anti-tourist' visiting these undesirable places and casting a realistic eye over them and their prospects; yet the same eye also contains a deep empathy towards these people and their invisible countries. Kalder's black humour carries the book from history to personal encounter (or non-encounter) with ease, and his revelations broaden out the view well beyond four republics you've never heard of.

Kalder states at the beginning that 'travel rarely broadens the mind', and travel books even more rarely do so. But this one does, brilliantly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book was an excellent read for those who enjoy imagining yourself appearing on the other side of the world with little or no money. It takes the reader on a visual and personal narrative of exploring obscure regions of Russia. Starting with a more well known region it trails down to the Russified plains of things that used to be. If you enjoy non-fiction reads like Hot House or other honest journeys into abandoned places you will enjoy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JT on July 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Kalder's 'Lost Cosmonaut' veers between serious and flippant in its treatment of four semi-autonomous Russian republics. He covers Muslims and Stalinists in Tatarstan, pagans and wedding agencies in Mari-El, exiled Buddhists, chess and Chuck Norris in Kalmykia, the Kalashinakov and his own unwillingness to become an 'expert' in Udmurtia. Kalder treats everything with a dry, black Scottish humor, occasionally accompanied by an outburst of entertaining obscenities, but at no point does he patronize the locals with either a scientific chin-stroking wonder or a National Geographic photographic sensibility. Deliberately distanced from the people he meets, the narrative is ironic enough to carry off occasional (and obvious) outrageous lies, like hallucinations in the Russian steppe. Kalder describes life in these republics as a combination of chance, boredom, cold obstruction, hope and self-creation, and the book reads like that itself. If you just want a laugh, it works, if you want to know about these people and places, it works, but if you want something more, it excels.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on February 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
This might be one of the most enjoyable entries in the growing crop of "anti-tourist" books that have lately been sprucing up the travel genre. Instead of genteel tales of scenery and fine foods that can be enjoyed by rich Americans in exotic tourist locations where your only interaction with the natives is when they refill your wineglass, here we get to know the real people in places that no tourist would ever think of visiting. Daniel Kalder decided to investigate some of the Russian Federation's forlorn and downtrodden ethnic republics. Most westerners will only be aware of Chechnya, where a non-Russian ethnic group has been trying to shake off centuries of Russian and Soviet domination. But Russia actually has dozens of these semi-autonomous ethnic republics, populated by forgotten tribes living in cultural wastelands. Kalder traveled to four of these - Tatarstan, Kalmykia, Mari El, and the wonderfully named Udmurtia. (Tellingly, none of those places, that millions call home, made it through my spell check software.)

Kalder reports on boring anti-tourist activities, obscure relics, dying cultures, and dreary post-industrial landscapes, while spending his time with regular folks who are flabbergasted at seeing a foreign tourist. In addition to Kalder's swift and tongue-in-cheek writing style, the great thing about this book is his ruminations on the insignificant lives of regular people in forgotten locations. He really brings the travails of the world's geopolitical misfits and losers to light in compelling ways, with some surprising glimmers of deep philosophical thought.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Humphries on December 8, 2007
Format: Kindle Edition
Did you know there was a Buddhist republic in Europe? And a desert for that matter? Or a pagan republic? Russia stretches from Eastern Europe to Alaska and contains many semi-autonomous republics - they have their own presidents, their own TV stations, their own heroes and legends and, of course, their own corruption, brutality, and cities dedicated to chess. They just don't have tourists.
Kalder sets out as an 'anti-tourist' visiting these undesirable places and casting a realistic eye over them and their prospects; yet the same eye also contains a deep empathy towards these people and their invisible countries. Kalder's black humour carries the book from history to personal encounter (or non-encounter) with ease, and his revelations broaden out the view well beyond four republics you've never heard of.

Kalder states at the beginning that 'travel rarely broadens the mind', and travel books even more rarely do so. But this one does, brilliantly.
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