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Showing 1-10 of 80 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 141 reviews
VINE VOICEon April 6, 2017
Like Siberia, this book is big. Like Siberia, this book takes a long time to get through. And like Siberia, it's fascinating and compelling. However, unlike Siberia, it is not freezing cold in winter and overrun with killer mosquitoes in spring and summer. I read it over a period of about a year, which you can do because the narrative has breaks in it and you won't lose the flow if you put it down and come back to it later.

A book this size is going to have a lot of detail in it. If you're looking for a quick overview, this ain't it. And if you're an impatient person who likes to skim, it's probably not for you. There are things missing; for instance, there's barely a mention of the indigenous populations of Siberia. But Frazier has become an expert on Siberia in many respects, and the book is loaded with history, geography, geology, politics, and culture from this incredible place. Frazier is funny and candid, and his wry humor and observations permeate every description. The book is also a travel memoir, replete with interesting characters and drama of a type and sensibility that, according to Frazier, are unique to Russia and Russians. It's low key in tone, but epic in scope.

All in all, it's one of the most interesting and entertaining books I've ever read.
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on June 8, 2016
I appreciated the pieces of history and literature mixed into Frazier's travel stories. His writing voice blends just enough humility and authority to make reading his work like having a long chat with an intelligent friend. The way he connects historical events to ordinary, yet outstanding people he admires, people I wouldn't have heard of otherwise, makes his look into the past feel more like a memoir.

Having spent some time in Russia, I smiled reading about the discomforts he endured. Frazier is an honest, personable author with a gift for seeing the details in life we overlook and giving them significance. Whether you're hoping to learn something new about our world or just laugh, I recommend reading Travels in Siberia.
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on May 17, 2013
Well-written with humor, honesty, and plenty of history, Travels in Siberia encompasses just about everything that could be said about the region. Frazier shares his various voyages to and within Siberia, including a cross-continental road trip in an often-breaking-van, interspersing his narrative with plenty of Russian history.

During his multiple expeditions, the author meets people from all walks of life, battles the elements, has a love-hate relationship with his guides, wrestles with his own nervousness and anxiety-ridden tendencies, is attacked by swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes, explores an abandoned prison, rides in all sorts of vehicles on terrains both monotonous and dangerous, and never manages to fall out of love with Russia.

I greatly enjoyed Fraizer's stories. However, I sometimes felt like his history lessons went on for too long. He delves into Russia's bloody history, going back to the time of Genghis Khan, through the tzars, the Decemberists, commuism and Stalinism, post-communism corruption, and into the future (where he describes the effects of global warming on Siberia's permafrost). I did like the recounting of local legends, but the countless Russians named (with their lives described in [often] unnecessary detail) became exhausting. Although it was easy to get swept up in the personal travelogue, Fraizer's history lessons did not always have the same page-turning draw.
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on September 1, 2013
A writer with self-professed "Russia Love", Ian Frazier thoroughly documents (complete with background history and any other vignette he finds interesting) his five trips to Siberia - the last in 2009. Luckily for Frazier, I'm a history and interesting fact lover, and so I didn't mind his literary departures from strict travelogue.

For those who love to travel and love to read books about travel, this is a gem. Especially since I doubt I will ever travel to Siberia. After reading Frazier's book, I honestly don't think I'd ever want to. As a North Dakota native, Siberia reminds me of the uglier step-sister of my state. They look alike - they are both endless expanses of plains (although Siberia does have forests), the "mountains" are really just a few hills, it's filled with mosquitoes in the summertime and it's very, very cold in the winter. The people seem nice in both places, but the culture is so very different. Bribes are commonplace in Russia, and efficiency is non-existent. In fact, Frazier's description of Siberian towns reminds me of walking into the late 20th century with a liberal sprinkling of garbage for decoration.

Like North Dakota, eastern Russia is sitting on some huge natural resources. It's oil deposits make it currently the largest oil producer in the world. The last chapter of Travels in Siberia is a fascinating look at how oil production and Vladimir Putin's nationalizing the companies in this industry have made him and Russia a super economic power. Given that these comments were four years old, I just had to do a little research to see how this has changed in light of America's surge in oil production due to fracking. It seems, not surprisingly, that centralized decision making is going to leave Russia's energy-based economy in the dust. They don't modernize, they don't invest, and as of today, their exports are shrinking by double digit percentages. Frazier's story of Russian negotiating tactics (ie, hanging the company representative upside down out of a flying helicopter to get them to sign an agreement favorable to Russia), leaves to me believe that few outside companies will be willing to help Russia come into the 21st century of oil production. That, and the threat of Putin stealing intellectual and real property. It's no wonder the the United States is predicted to be the leader in oil production within the next four years.

Travels in Siberia is a fascinating book about an area of the world we seldom hear about.
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on March 3, 2017
The author is in love with Russia, and more specifically, Siberia, and he writes as only a lover could - enthusiastically, poetically, and also with a lot of humor. Siberia "ain't no Disneyland," as one guidebook says, but this wonderful book takes you there with grace, humor and a love of words, language, history, and people.
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on August 9, 2014
If you are trying to talk someone out of a vacation in Siberia, this is the book for you. I admit I couldn't make it through to the end, but the writer made the scenery and the history very depressing (granted the history isn't his fault) and the people weren't even very interesting. And if he was so distrustful of his drivers, maybe he should have looked farther for someone to hire.
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on March 22, 2017
Just 1/2 way through and it reads like the New Yorker - Superb reading and travel intrigue
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on January 7, 2014
I really like the writings of Ian Frazier in The New Yorker and this book is a continuation on a theme. My only complaint is that the book is about 25% too long. Far too many descriptions of the everyday of travel and the people he met. Perhaps I am jaded a bit by the everyday that is Russia, in that I traveled in Czechoslovakia so many times during the communist period, it being a country so heavily impressed upon by the former, but this seemed to be too heavily represented by a traveler who went there so many times. In time, you start not noticing what is so bizarre about the system. He never seemed to.
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on May 14, 2013
Since this is a first-person narrative, observations reflect opinions, conjectures, and llimiations of that voice. Historical writers about Siberia add depth to the narrative. The time span of Frazier's travels give the reader a good sense of how fast (or slow) life has changed in his Siberian ports of call. More commentary about environmental aspects would have added insight into the average Russians' thinking about this vital subject. The final chapter is a devastating critique of governmental policy. I would have appreciated more verbal finesse to the author's writing, something tighter editing might have achieved.
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on January 27, 2014
Ian Frazier's writing style is what makes this book. His mix of historical, travel, and geographical topics is sure to keep the reader entertained page after page. Whether Frazier is writing about his own experiences traveling through the Russian Far East, or laying out the history of Genghis Kahn, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy in his book. If you want an information packed book, on the Russian Far East, that will keep you entertained, then "Travels in Siberia" will not disappoint.
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