Winston Churchill famously described Russia as ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’. Even today it remains a country little understood by the West. But as a resurgent world power, with an energy-rich economy, we ignore Russia at our peril.
In this timely and revealing portrait, distinguished author and broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby crosses eight time zones and covers 10,000 miles, from Murmansk in the Arctic Circle to the Asian city of Vladivostok, in an attempt to get beneath the skin of modern Russia. Travelling by road, rail and boat, his epic journey takes him from the neo-classical splendour of St Petersburg to remote and inaccessible parts of Siberia. At the heart of this magisterial account are Jonathan’s encounters with a diverse range of ordinary Russians – from urban intellectuals and the new class of entrepreneurs, to impoverished peasants and Russia’s ethnic minorities struggling to cling to their distinctive identities.
Jonathan was the only British television journalist to interview President Gorbachev during the Cold War, and, returning to Russia for the first time since those days, he discovers a land transformed. But despite economic progress, he finds aspects of Russian society deeply troubling, and takes an unflinchingly critical look at the way Russia has been run during the Putin years.
For Jonathan, crossing the immense Russian landmass became as much an interior journey as an exterior one, and the book contains painfully honest passages as he struggles to meet the challenges of an arduous film trip against the backdrop of great turbulence in his personal life. Filled with a dazzling array of historical and literary references, Russia – A Journey to the Heart of a Land and its People is a riveting and illuminating account of modern Russia.
A lavish book to accompany television's first comprehensive journey through the vast and varied landscapes of Russia
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“Comments Page 17. J B ANDERSON a 16 year old boy in Murmansk in Mosquito invested Birch Wood and lonely cemetery. It would have been nice if Jonathan could have give a full story of how this lad came to be there in the first place. It was a horror story of how he and others came to meet their end but sadly it has been missed out.”
“I have just read the whole book and will never forget it. He skillfully maps his journey from the heart and from the head. He reflects on his own and others' feelings as he negotiates difficult terrain. He describes the present drawing on the past, which paints a picture of the future in Russia. However, as he says, this is just one man's journey and that is understanding Russia through the eyes of a westerner.”