The best books about Siberia

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Siberia and why they recommend each book.

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East of the Sun

By Benson Bobrick,

Book cover of East of the Sun: The Epic Conquest and Tragic History of Siberia

For readers venturing into the history of Siberia for the first time, East of the Sun is an excellent introduction to this Asian side of Russia, stretching 5,000 miles between the Ural Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The book's narrative covers four centuries, from the conquest of Siberia by Russians in the late 16th century through the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 20th century—including early expeditions into the uncharted lands east of the Urals and the Russians' push toward the Pacific Ocean; native people in Siberia; Russian expansion into North America, from Alaska to California; Siberia as a place of prison and exile, but also a land of opportunity for millions of voluntary settlers; the impact of the Trans-Siberian Railroad; and the effects of modernization under the Soviets in the 20th century. If you're an armchair traveler interested in history, or planning a trip to Siberia yourself,…


Who am I?

Sharon Hudgins is the award-winning author of five books on history, travel, and food; a journalist with more than 1,000 articles published worldwide; and a former professor with the University of Maryland's Global Campus. She has spent two years in Russia, teaching at universities in Siberia and the Russian Far East, and lecturing on tours for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Viking, and other expedition companies. Endowed with an insatiable wanderlust, she has lived in 10 countries on 3 continents, traveled through 55 countries across the globe, and logged more than 45,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.


I wrote...

T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

By Sharon Hudgins,

Book cover of T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

What is my book about?

Filled with fascinating food history, cultural insights, and personal stories, T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks is first cookbook in America about the foods of the Asian side of Russia. It chronicles the culinary adventures of two intrepid Texans who lived, worked, and ate their way around Siberia and the Russian Far East—from modern cities to log-cabin villages, from grassy steppes to snow-capped mountains. Featuring 140 traditional and modern recipes, with 75 photos, this unique memoir-cookbook includes dozens of regional recipes from local cooks in Asian Russiafresh seafood dishes from Russia's Far East, venison-blueberry dumplings from Siberia, potato salad with crab and caviar, pine-nut meringues, traditional Russian holiday treats and Easter desserts, along with enticing appetizers from the dining car of a luxury Trans-Siberian train. You'll also find recipes for the European and Tex-Mex dishes the author cooked on the "Stoves from Hell' in her own Russian apartments there. 

"Sharon Hudgins' charming food memoir about living in Russia is both a fun read and an excellent cookbook….the moving story of life in a foreign land and a comprehensive collection of Russian recipes you will find nowhere else." — James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief, World Food, and judge on Top Chef Masters

To the Great Ocean

By Harmon Tupper,

Book cover of To the Great Ocean: The Taming Of Siberia And The Building Of The Trans-Siberian Railway

A highly readable and well-illustrated history of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, from the earliest Russian railways to the construction of the Trans-Siberian route to the modern railway of the mid-20th century. Built between 1891 and 1916, it was the longest passenger line in the world and one of the greatest engineering feats of its time. But few people riding on Trans-Siberian trains today are aware of the immense obstacles the builders had to overcome, from tunneling through snow-covered mountains and draining dangerous swamps, to coping with deadly diseases and attacks by bandits and Siberian tigers.

In 1916, when the last railroad bridge was constructed over the Amur River in Russia's Far East, the trip by train from Moscow to Vladivostok took 14 to 16 days. Today it takes only 7 days to cover the 5,771 miles between Russia's capital and the Pacific Ocean—but it's still the railway journey of a lifetime.…


Who am I?

Sharon Hudgins is the award-winning author of five books on history, travel, and food; a journalist with more than 1,000 articles published worldwide; and a former professor with the University of Maryland's Global Campus. She has spent two years in Russia, teaching at universities in Siberia and the Russian Far East, and lecturing on tours for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Viking, and other expedition companies. Endowed with an insatiable wanderlust, she has lived in 10 countries on 3 continents, traveled through 55 countries across the globe, and logged more than 45,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.


I wrote...

T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

By Sharon Hudgins,

Book cover of T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

What is my book about?

Filled with fascinating food history, cultural insights, and personal stories, T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks is first cookbook in America about the foods of the Asian side of Russia. It chronicles the culinary adventures of two intrepid Texans who lived, worked, and ate their way around Siberia and the Russian Far East—from modern cities to log-cabin villages, from grassy steppes to snow-capped mountains. Featuring 140 traditional and modern recipes, with 75 photos, this unique memoir-cookbook includes dozens of regional recipes from local cooks in Asian Russiafresh seafood dishes from Russia's Far East, venison-blueberry dumplings from Siberia, potato salad with crab and caviar, pine-nut meringues, traditional Russian holiday treats and Easter desserts, along with enticing appetizers from the dining car of a luxury Trans-Siberian train. You'll also find recipes for the European and Tex-Mex dishes the author cooked on the "Stoves from Hell' in her own Russian apartments there. 

"Sharon Hudgins' charming food memoir about living in Russia is both a fun read and an excellent cookbook….the moving story of life in a foreign land and a comprehensive collection of Russian recipes you will find nowhere else." — James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief, World Food, and judge on Top Chef Masters

The Princess of Siberia

By Christine Sutherland,

Book cover of The Princess of Siberia: The Story of Maria Volkonsky and the Decembrist Exiles

A fascinating account of the remarkable lives—and wives—of several Russian aristocrats who were sentenced to prison, hard labor, and exile in Siberia after participating in a failed attempt to overthrow Tsar Nicholas I in December of 1825. Eleven wives (two of them princesses) of those unfortunate noblemen voluntarily followed their husbands to Siberia, even though the women were forced to give up their own lands, titles, and children back in Moscow and St. Petersburg. 

The Princess of Siberia focuses on one family in particular, the Volkonskys, who settled in Irkutsk, the capital of eastern Siberia, after Prince Sergei Volkonsky's years of hard labor in the silver mines in Russia's Far East. His wife, Maria—a princess from a distinguished family in European Russia—stayed with him throughout his imprisonment and exile in Siberia. She later became known in Irkutsk as "The Princess of Siberia" because of her many charitable works and cultural…


Who am I?

Sharon Hudgins is the award-winning author of five books on history, travel, and food; a journalist with more than 1,000 articles published worldwide; and a former professor with the University of Maryland's Global Campus. She has spent two years in Russia, teaching at universities in Siberia and the Russian Far East, and lecturing on tours for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Viking, and other expedition companies. Endowed with an insatiable wanderlust, she has lived in 10 countries on 3 continents, traveled through 55 countries across the globe, and logged more than 45,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.


I wrote...

T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

By Sharon Hudgins,

Book cover of T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

What is my book about?

Filled with fascinating food history, cultural insights, and personal stories, T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks is first cookbook in America about the foods of the Asian side of Russia. It chronicles the culinary adventures of two intrepid Texans who lived, worked, and ate their way around Siberia and the Russian Far East—from modern cities to log-cabin villages, from grassy steppes to snow-capped mountains. Featuring 140 traditional and modern recipes, with 75 photos, this unique memoir-cookbook includes dozens of regional recipes from local cooks in Asian Russiafresh seafood dishes from Russia's Far East, venison-blueberry dumplings from Siberia, potato salad with crab and caviar, pine-nut meringues, traditional Russian holiday treats and Easter desserts, along with enticing appetizers from the dining car of a luxury Trans-Siberian train. You'll also find recipes for the European and Tex-Mex dishes the author cooked on the "Stoves from Hell' in her own Russian apartments there. 

"Sharon Hudgins' charming food memoir about living in Russia is both a fun read and an excellent cookbook….the moving story of life in a foreign land and a comprehensive collection of Russian recipes you will find nowhere else." — James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief, World Food, and judge on Top Chef Masters

Tent Life in Siberia

By George Kennan,

Book cover of Tent Life in Siberia

An intrepid traveler and talented journalist, George Kennan (1845-1924), is better known for his second book about Russia, published in 1891: Siberia and the Exile System, a two-volume study of Siberian penal colonies and exile conditions. But his first book, published 20 years earlier, is among my favorites about Russia. In his introduction to a 1968 reprint of Tent Life in Siberia, American author Larry McMurtry called it "one of the most appealing classics of nineteenth-century travel [writing]."

In 1865, 20-year-old Kennan, an accomplished telegrapher, was hired by Western Union to survey part of Siberia for the possible construction of a telegraph line across Russia, connecting Alaska to Europe. This memoir of his two years in Siberia is a rousing tale of his adventures among the native people and the Russian settlers he encountered there, as well as the many hardships that he and his partner endured, from…


Who am I?

Sharon Hudgins is the award-winning author of five books on history, travel, and food; a journalist with more than 1,000 articles published worldwide; and a former professor with the University of Maryland's Global Campus. She has spent two years in Russia, teaching at universities in Siberia and the Russian Far East, and lecturing on tours for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Viking, and other expedition companies. Endowed with an insatiable wanderlust, she has lived in 10 countries on 3 continents, traveled through 55 countries across the globe, and logged more than 45,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.


I wrote...

T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

By Sharon Hudgins,

Book cover of T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

What is my book about?

Filled with fascinating food history, cultural insights, and personal stories, T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks is first cookbook in America about the foods of the Asian side of Russia. It chronicles the culinary adventures of two intrepid Texans who lived, worked, and ate their way around Siberia and the Russian Far East—from modern cities to log-cabin villages, from grassy steppes to snow-capped mountains. Featuring 140 traditional and modern recipes, with 75 photos, this unique memoir-cookbook includes dozens of regional recipes from local cooks in Asian Russiafresh seafood dishes from Russia's Far East, venison-blueberry dumplings from Siberia, potato salad with crab and caviar, pine-nut meringues, traditional Russian holiday treats and Easter desserts, along with enticing appetizers from the dining car of a luxury Trans-Siberian train. You'll also find recipes for the European and Tex-Mex dishes the author cooked on the "Stoves from Hell' in her own Russian apartments there. 

"Sharon Hudgins' charming food memoir about living in Russia is both a fun read and an excellent cookbook….the moving story of life in a foreign land and a comprehensive collection of Russian recipes you will find nowhere else." — James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief, World Food, and judge on Top Chef Masters

In the Kingdom of Ice

By Hampton Sides,

Book cover of In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

This is another history that drew me in with a tightly focused story — an 1879 expedition to reach the North Pole — then overwhelmed me with a slowly dawning realization: The expedition was sheer insanity based on assumptions that are whacky beyond belief but were state-of-the-art thinking less than a century and a half ago. George Washington De Long and his crew aboard the Jeanette left San Francisco expecting to spend a single winter trapped in the polar ice before popping into a temperate Arctic Sea and steaming their way straight to the apex of Planet Earth. Instead, the crew endured more than two years of almost unimaginable hardship. That any of them survived to tell the tale testifies to the indomitability of the human spirit.


Who am I?

I’m not a big fan of 800-page biographies, sprawling histories, or overweight novels that tell me everything about a subject but give me no place to sit down and enjoy the view. I want something that anchors my interest, that holds my imagination, that shows me the general through the particular — something that hints at a bigger meaning, a bigger world without shoving my nose in it. To me, great writing is all about compression — not the number of words but the richness of every word. I want a book that opens up like a flower as I read it.


I wrote...

Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story

By Howard Means,

Book cover of Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story

What is my book about?

My original goal was to untangle John Chapman — the real Johnny Appleseed — from the many myths that have grown up and accreted around him in the more than a century and a half since his death. Along the way, I discovered that Chapman’s and Appleseed’s stories were both inseparable from the broad sweep of American history. Westward expansion, religious fervor, the awful hardships of life on the frontier, the War of 1812, the Civil War, Prohibition, World War 2, the Walt Disney studio — they all played key roles in transforming Chapman into Appleseed and shaping the myth that would eventually overshadow and nearly subsume both men.

The Great Soul of Siberia

By Sooyong Park,

Book cover of The Great Soul of Siberia

Sooyong Park spends years in the wilderness to monitor and track the last remaining Siberian tigers. He spends weeks in the middle of a freezing winter in a dug-out shelter to photograph these magnificent animals in their ever-diminishing wilderness. But neither the freezing weather nor climate change is the immediate problem for the tigers - poaching and human encroachment are destroying the habitat they need to live in to prevent interbreeding.  You could cry reading this book.


Who am I?

I am a Scottish geographer and energy specialist. I love nature and snow and don't want to see it destroyed or lost. I wrote Carbon Choices, on the common-sense solutions to our climate and nature crises, to share my expertise and passion to help people to make a difference. People, businesses, and governments all need to understand the serious consequences of climate change. Education is the first step towards taking action. Carbon Choices focuses on the solutions, many of which are 'common sense', to protect people and nature upon which we all depend.


I wrote...

Carbon Choices: Common-sense Solutions to our Climate and Nature Crises

By Neil Kitching,

Book cover of Carbon Choices: Common-sense Solutions to our Climate and Nature Crises

What is my book about?

An accessible guide to our climate crisis. Carbon Choices will help you to understand climate change and nature loss and provides common-sense solutions before COP26, the global climate conference to be held in Glasgow. Section 1 introduces carbon dioxide, climate change, and the destruction of nature. A summary of the impacts of climate change and how we have created an environmental crisis. Section 2 introduces ten building blocks that are needed to lay the foundations to enable us to make better choices for the planet. Section 3 applies these building blocks to our everyday lives - our diets, homes, travel, shopping, and leisure. By doing so we can rewild nature, improve our society, be healthier, happier and lead more fulfilled lives. The future can be better. 

"I greatly look forward to reading it", Sir David Attenborough. 

My Sister's Mother

By Donna Solecka Urbikas,

Book cover of My Sister's Mother: A Memoir of War, Exile, and Stalin's Siberia

My Sister’s Mother is a family memoir set against the backdrop of forced evictions and deportations of Poles to forced labor camps in frozen Siberia. Russia invaded Poland two weeks after Germany did, and the two powers divided Poland between their countries. Soviet communists murdered thousands of Polish citizens, Polish military, and in 1940 deported hundreds of thousands of civilian Poles, in freezing cattle cars, to forced labor camps in Siberia.

Urbikas’ mother and older sister faced impossible circumstances imposed by Stalin’s brutal policies against Poles. The core theme focuses on motherhood, the relationship between a mother and her daughter, and how far a woman will go to survive and protect her child. Then, the story transitions into the epilogue of war for thousands of Poles: life in a displaced persons camp and growing up with inherited trauma and the challenges common to first-generation Polish immigrants.


Who am I?

I am an author, lifelong history geek, and relentlessly curious about finding unknown stories. In 2002 I met Henry Zguda, an eighty-five-year-old Polish Catholic who survived three years in Auschwitz and Buchenwald during World War II. He lived a mile from my house. Intrigued, I soon offered to write his incredible story. I am not Polish and knew little of Poland or Polish history when I began. This led to over ten years of research on Poland, World War II, and the Holocaust. My friendship with Henry changed the direction of my life and gave me keen insight into the plight of Poles, both Jewish and Christian, during World War II. Thousands of memoirs and books exist on the Holocaust. I believe the inspiring stories of Poles and other victims of Hitler and Stalin deserve equally widespread recognition.


I wrote...

Henry: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America

By Katrina Shawver,

Book cover of Henry: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America

What is my book about?

Poland, 1942. Henry Zguda was at home in the water. But one night in May, the SS arrested the celebrated competitive swimmer in Kraków for the sole crime of being Polish. Two weeks later, he was far from the life he’d known, interred as political prisoner #39551 at Auschwitz.

Told through a series of heartfelt conversations with the author, Henry recounts his gut-wrenching story of miraculous survival and of refusing to succumb, even amidst the most brutal of horrors. Interwoven with carefully constructed historical research and evidence, this powerful account of a Christian persecuted by Nazis is a gripping tale of love, loss, and loyalty that sheds light on some of the lesser-known evils of the Holocaust. He witnessed and lived through the absolute worst of humanity, yet preferred to look ahead rather than behind.

Quartered in Hell

By Hayes Otoupalik, Dennis Gordon,

Book cover of Quartered in Hell: The Story of the American North Russia Expeditionary Force 1918-1919

A well-researched and fascinating story of the little-known American intervention in the North Russia/Siberia campaigns between the Red Bolshevik forces and the “White Russian” forces with small American and British units essentially caught in the middle.


Who am I?

I have written 13 books and over 200 national magazine articles on U.S. Military weapons and am Field Editor for the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine. The story of the World War II weapons and campaigns have been widely covered but the First World War is sometimes all but forgotten. Those who are not familiar with America’s rather brief, but important, role in the conflict often do not realize how the First World War helped make the United States one of the world’s “superpowers.”


I wrote...

U. S. Infantry Weapons of the First World War

By Bruce Canfield,

Book cover of U. S. Infantry Weapons of the First World War

What is my book about?

The definitive guide to U.S. infantry weapons of World War I. Best-selling author and arms expert Bruce N. Canfield gives you the inside scoop on everything that was carried into combat by the Army and Marines, including rifles, pistols, shotguns, automatic rifles, machine guns, bayonets, knives, grenades, mortars, flame throwers, and accessories. It's all in here! Filled with the kind of practical, "hands-on" advice and information that you will turn to again and again, with unique "collector's notes" that tell you what you need to know about markings, rarity, rebuilds, and fakes. Nowhere else will you find this amount of useful information under one cover - and it's complete with exciting combat reports describing how this equipment performed at the front!

The Shaman

By Piers Vitebsky,

Book cover of The Shaman: Voyages of the Soul - Trance, Ecstasy and Healing from Siberia to the Amazon

Because of its beautiful presentation of this complex topic, the stunning illustrations and the superb, world-class knowledge the author brings to an enigmatic subject, in which the ability of certain individuals to access the spirit world is discussed. The theatre in which the author performs is worldwide, and, although shamanism differs hugely from the Americas to Siberia, from India to southern Africa, and way beyond, he brilliantly presents a cohesive and totally enthralling picture of the essential ingredients of shamanism: shape-shifting, ‘soul-flight’, healing through contact with the spirits, are just some of the themes covered in this short volume. The book engages academics as a sound starting-point for the understanding of what a shaman is but its concise style and gorgeous colour images will engage anyone remotely interested in world religions.


Who am I?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at Cardiff University. I have been writing books on later prehistoric and Romano-British and Roman provincial cults and customs since the 1980s, and my fascination with this subject remains undimmed. I have travelled all over the world as a visiting lecturer and in 2015 my book Bog Bodies Uncovered won two US Books of the Year awards. I have always been of the view that research is pointless unless it is shared and easily communicated, and so I try to avoid academic jargon and to present my publications both as accessible to general readers and as relevant to people at the cutting edge of their own research.


I wrote...

Sacred Britannia: The Gods and Rituals of Roman Britain

By Miranda Aldhouse-Green,

Book cover of Sacred Britannia: The Gods and Rituals of Roman Britain

What is my book about?

Two thousand years ago, the Romans sought to absorb into their empire what they regarded as a remote, almost mythical island on the very edge of the known world--Britain. The expeditions of Julius Caesar and the Claudian invasion of 43 AD, up to the traditional end of Roman Britain in the fifth century AD, brought fundamental and lasting changes to the island. Not least among these was a pantheon of new classical deities and religious systems, along with a clutch of exotic eastern cults, including Christianity. But what homegrown deities, cults, and cosmologies did the Romans encounter in Britain, and how did the British react to the changes? Under Roman rule, the old gods and their adherents were challenged, adopted, adapted, absorbed, and reconfigured.

Comrade Pavlik

By Catriona Kelly,

Book cover of Comrade Pavlik: The Rise And Fall Of A Soviet Boy Hero

This book is intriguing as it reads like a historical detective mystery. Pavlik Morozov was murdered in Siberia and the Soviet state used the murder to further its propaganda effort to inculcate youth into proper modes of socialist behavior. He was turned into a martyr for the Soviet cause and some relatives were railroaded into confessing to his murder, however the author sheds considerable doubt that the true culprits were caught. The whole story reeks of cynicism and fickleness on the part of the powers that be as they tried to make an example of the life of Morozov.


Who am I?

Roger Reese has studied, researched, and or taught Soviet history since 1984. He has been on the faculty of Texas A&M University since 1990. He has published five books and numerous articles and book chapters on the military history of Russia and the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr. book prize for his most recent book, The Imperial Russian Army in Peace, War, and Revolution, 1856-1917.


I wrote...

The Imperial Russian Army in Peace, War, and Revolution, 1856-1917

By Roger R. Reese,

Book cover of The Imperial Russian Army in Peace, War, and Revolution, 1856-1917

What is my book about?

Reese’s comprehensive social history takes readers beyond the battlefield to examine living conditions, military education, and officer-soldier relations in the late Imperial Russian Army. He argues that the officer corps’ incompetence, abusive behavior, and reactionary attitudes eventually drove the soldiery to revolt. Thorough, critical, and well written, it challenges numerous myths and presents a provocative new explanation for Russia’s collapse in 1917. He uses letters and memoirs to get the soldiers’ and officers’ view of their experience in the army, which humanizes the reader’s understanding of what the men went through.

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