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Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier
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Travels in Siberia (2010)

by Ian Frazier

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4632622,714 (4.05)49
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    Dersu the Trapper by V. K. Arseniev (rebeccanyc)
    rebeccanyc: Frazier mentions Dersu (the book and the movie) in his wonderfully written story of his five trips to Siberia, a book which encompasses history, natural history, fascinating characters and more. Dersu the Trapper provides a much more detailed look at a narrower segment of Siberia at a time when it was still wilderness… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
I purchased this book, signed, when it came out in 2010. I started it several times in the intervening several years only to be disgusted w/ the sophomoric approach to language Frazier has at his beck and call. Finally, I decided to read it come the proverbial hell or high water. I was not disappointed. Though there are numerous instances of more than adequate writing, his style is truly that of a high school student in a general writing class. His use of stock phrases such as 'by the way' and 'in other words' tells me he needed an editor. A continual use of short choppy sentences that too frequently began with the word 'I' also led me to undervalue the literary qualities of this book. I would never recommend this book to anyone even though it had a few moments where the writing was elevated. There are far too many good books in the world to waste your time with this one. ( )
  untraveller | Mar 9, 2014 |
This should have been three books. One, a book of assays about random stuff about Siberia. Two, a book about the summer trip Frazier took. And three, a short book or long assay about the winter trip.

I struggled through the first 150 pages or so, though parts were interesting. It seemed distracted and patchy. It was the account of a bunch of different trips he took, visiting friends, friends of friends (which very quickly gets confusing), and random thoughts and impressions, with bits of history thrown in. Then, the summer trip with two guides, which was very interesting. Frasier gets more into history here, and tells a much more cohesive story, both in terms of the history and in terms of the trip's narrative. His relationship with the guides, and of course, the cursed car that keeps breaking down, keeps the story amusing.

In general, Frasier is wonder-struck or annoyed at any given moment. I got the impression that he is a cheesier and less funny version of Bill Bryson. At times, he makes some very astute observations and some hilarious ones, and at times, you, along with him, wonder why he is doing what he is doing.

I am glad I read this book, and I learned a lot about Siberia. But I am not sure if I would recommend it to most people. I think if you have an already existing interest or love relationship with Russia, Soviet history, or Siberia, this book is for you. ( )
  bluepigeon | Dec 15, 2013 |
Ian Frazier criss-crosses sections of Siberia by plane, trains and automobiles. There are many mosquitoes. He explores the history and landscape and his adventures make for diverting and entertaining reading about a vast territory most of us know little about. ( )
  marmot | Jul 17, 2013 |
I'm very impressed with Frazier, and other writers like him (John McPhee is another example) who can somehow manage to make interesting friends, go interesting places, and then describe it all for those of us who are too shy to get as far. Frazier is also able to admit that for much of the book he is little more than a somewhat better-read "stupid American tourist" and doesn't pretend to be anything but a traveler and a writer. Nor does he leave out some foolish things he's done or the difficulties of traveling far into a country where you don't quite speak the language and don't quite understand the culture. But it is very informative, and the writing gives you a sense of his amazement at both the good and the bad and the mediocre of Russia. Bonus credits for good notes and an impressive bibliography. Frazier has been thinking about this book for decades now and it shows. ( )
  louistb | Jun 24, 2013 |
Riveting - I want to go. Best book I've read in 2011. ( )
  Julie_Brock | Apr 12, 2013 |
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Examines the unforgiving region of Siberia, including its geography, resources, native peoples, and history, with stories of Mongols, fur seekers, tea caravans, American prospectors, prisoners, and exiles of every kind.

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