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Travels in Siberia Paperback – September 27, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
I lived and worked in Siberian and the Russian Far East for several years in the 1990s. Frazier has always been one of my favorite authors; he is king of detail. "On the Rez" was a phenomenal book. Missing my second home, Russia, I snatched up Travels in Siberia the instant it became available.
I'm going to start with the limitations of this book:
1. East of Chita and Yakutia, the locals uniformly call their land the "Russian Far East." They do not call it Siberia, any more than people from Idaho or California call their land the Midwest. Just like Americans have the Midwest and the West, the Russians have the corresponding landlocked Siberia and the coastal Far East. It perpetuates Westerners' geographic misnaming of the region.
2. Leaving the history of Siberia's Indigenous peoples out of the book. This is the most egregious oversight of this book, and it's particularly perplexing given Frazier's history researching and writing "On the Rez." Can you imagine an author writing on the history and the experience of the Dakotas without mentioning the Sioux? This book manages to paint Siberia and the Russian Far East as the historic battleground of Russians and the Mongols, without mentioning the couple dozen tribes - of Asian, Turkish, or European descent - that migrated to, lived in, and defined Siberia for centuries before either the Russians or the Mongols arrived. In a few of these regions, Indigenous peoples still outnumber Russians, and it is still common to hear the native languages spoken on the streets or in government offices. Frazier writes about two visits to the Republic of Buryatia without clarifying that Buryatians are Indigenous descendents of the Mongols.Read more ›
Nonetheless, as much as I appreciate seeing an author's sense of humor and personality shine through a narrative like this, I found parts of Frazier's discourse to be simply grating and tinged with a familiarly uncomfortable, unmistakable East Coast self-importance. As many times as Frazier may call himself a Midwesterner in the text, his worldview is clearly that of an affluent New Yorker. This is perfectly evidenced by his reference to his guide/trip organizer/translator/mechanic throughout Siberia as his `driver'. It took a native Russian teacher later to point out to him that he should call the talented person who shepherded him (and his expensive fishing rods) across thousands of miles of Siberia his `colleague' instead (also worth pointing out that in addition to this man's guide credentials, he's the head of the robotics lab at St. Petersburg State University, hardly a `driver' qualification).
Frazier goes on to display a latent sexism in a passage about the beauty of post-soviet-era Russian women. He marvels at the `beautiful women walking everywhere' in Krasnoyarsk, recalling a negative Cold War American stereotype of Russian female appearance and questioning its origins.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good writing should have either deep character development or an engaging story. Great writing might have both. This book has neither. Read morePublished 1 month ago by G
Excellent. Suggest all who are interested in Russia, especially from a US-Alaskan point of view should read it!Published 3 months ago by Kitsap Buyer
This guy is a seriously talented writer. I wasn't sure how I would go with a travel book, and I always thought Siberia was just freezing cold and an enormous land mass. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Connor
Frazier rambles through Siberia several times, driven by a basically inexplicable craving for more. He catalogs the journey with enjoyable, matter-of-fact informality, regarding... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Brian Griffith
I never have had any interest in Siberia - never been there and never wanted to go. My sense of the place was an empty vastness, swampy with short buggy summers and long, cold dark... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Nemoman
I couldn't recommend Ian Frazier highly enough. The man could write about a rock and make it interesting. That said, I found Family and The Great Plains better than this book. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Dan B
The author traveled at various times through Siberia. At first I was a little slow getting into it, but it is a very worthwhile read. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Gisella Patharkar