Among the Russians

By Colin Thubron,

Book cover of Among the Russians

Book description

Thubron learnt Russian and entered the then Soviet Union in an old Morris Marina in which he camped and drove for almost 10,000 miles between the Baltic and Caucasus. This book provides a revealing picture of the many races who inhabit the country and the human side behind state socialism.

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Among the Russians as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Colin Thubron showed me real travel writing: a journey in words that leads the reader through detailed landscapes, personal encounters with local people, and a depth of understanding that can only come through the human history of these landscapes.

I took this trip with Thubron when Russia was still the Soviet Union. Thubron met dissidents living in Moscow, drank vodka with them late into the night, traveled north to the remnants of Soviet concentration camps, took the rails through that vast continent across the steppes, over the mountains, around huge lakes, all the way to the Pacific coast. The book…

To me, it was an enthralling journey written with unusual literary craftsmanship. Such a pleasure to read, but it made me feel inadequate because my travel writings are rough and raw in comparison. It doesn’t stop me from admiring Colin’s skill with words. 

Reading the book, I was immersed in another world - the final years of the Soviet Union seen through the eyes of a poetic traveller who weaves history and love of art, architecture, and culture into his tale. I loved the insights – mostly into the people and their struggle to interpret the outside world, and his…

Ten thousand miles in a Morris Minor. The reader might wonder, after closing this book, what has changed in Russia in forty years, despite regime collapse. An excellent companion on the road – though I found it hard to choose between this and Thubron’s later book on Russia, In Siberia.

From Sara's list on to read when visiting Russia.

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