Imperium: ondergang van een wereldrijk
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Imperium: ondergang van een wereldrijk

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  1,896 ratings  ·  116 reviews
Beschrijving van de reizen die de Poolse journalist en Ruslandkenner maakte door de Sovjet-Unie in de periode 1958-1991; tevens een poging tot analyse van van het nieuwe Rusland.
Paperback, 335 pages
Published (first published 1992)
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Here is a tour through the ruins of empire. Ryszard Kapuscinski has lived through the Soviet Union during its worst stretches of tyranny, and is now a dutiful chronicler of its long dissolution.

This is not a political history, and not about the mechanisms of power. Instead, it is about the very fringes of empire, where power once hoped to reach and is now wasting away. He journeys to the very edges of empire, and talks to the ordinary people. He starts in what was a part of Poland, and goes to...more
Imperium isn't merely a travel narrative; such would ignore its vitality as palimpsest. It traverses the same roads again and again over time, it returns to immense crime scenes and it ponders a policy of ecological suicide. The book was published in 1994 just before a number of the text's issues came to boil: the two Chechen Wars. There are whispers of the rise of the oligarchs and somewhere lurking is in the frozen mist is Putin. Kapuściński has penned an amazing account of an empire. He often...more
Jun 20, 2007 Andy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historians, Journalists, Commies
"Imperium" was the first Ryszard Kapuscinski book I read. I have since bought and read each of this other books if that tells you anything.

Kapuscinski was (he died early this year) a Polish Journalist extraordinaire who spent his life (he nearly died numerous times in the field) covering Coups, Wars and any other havoc he could fly into.

Imperium is about his travels, by plane, train, car, horse, whatever through the Soviet Union...more specifically: Siberia. The heartbreak he describes in these...more
Kapuscinski delivers in Imperium a near equal of his masterpieces (Another Day of Life, The Emperor, and Shah of Shahs). Describing this makes it seems like an awful mess stitched together from reportage on the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a memoir of the author’s own contact with the empire, travelogue and history of the various regions (writer Geoff Dyer points out the section on the history of the Armenian book as especially wonderful, and I agree.), and an indictment of Stalin’s ruthless...more
Finora è il libro di Kapuscinski che più mi ha coinvolto ed appassionato tra quelli letti. Raccoglie le vicende di persone, il racconto di fatti, le testimonianze e memorie raccolte durante i suoi viaggi nell’immenso paese che è stato l’ex U.R.S.S., che, in una narrazione circolare, prende il via dal paese natale dello scrittore, Pinsk, una cittadina polacca ora ricompresa nella Bielorussia, e dai ricordi infantili dell’occupazione russa, per terminare da dove è iniziato, nella stessa città, cir...more
Michael Scott
Imperium is the rare book that can explain Communist regimes, in this case, the Communist regime in Russia. In what starts as a memoir, then turns into a multi-trip travelogue Ryszard Kapuściński captures the essence of the regime: the corruption, the decay, the bureaucracy, the totalitarian state, but also the beautifully diverse (and thoroughly enslaved and oppressed) people. This dystopian journalism, for modern Russia (1930s through 1990s) is a dystopian and failed state, is made palatable b...more
Oct 05, 2010 Wanda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wanda by: Monika
This book, by Ryszard Kapuscinski, is amazing. But it is work, albeit well worth the trouble.
It is difficult to put a finger on what it actually is -- travelogue vignettes is about as close as I can come to describing it. Kapuscinksi is a Polish journalist who traveled througout the Soviet Union when few other people could. As he traveled, he recorded his impressions throughout the years beginning with the Soviet occupation of Eastern Poland. His observations are relatively apolitical. They are...more
From my perspective of having lived in Eastern Europe for a couple years in the early 90s, Kapuscinski is right on target. A very good journalist with real insight and depth. I found Emperor, about Haile Selassie, and Shah of Shahs spellbinding - very difficult to put down.
As stated in most of the reviews of this book, Kapuscinski is a great writer. If you have not read him already, read this book and understand why. If you allready have read him, you are going to read this book based on what you allready have learned to know.

Having given Kapuscinski the credit he obviously deserves for his writing, I believe there is some points that should be done.

-First Kapuscinski stands on the shoulders of giants. His writing is to a great extent the result of the local peopl...more
Mike Clinton
"The" global journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski turns his attention to the various states of the former Soviet Union as it passed through the early stages of its transformation during from 1989-91. Just the fact that it's Kapuscinski makes it valuable as an insightful commentary on an event of world-shaking importance. RK's idiosyncratic style, however, is less conventional reportage, relating poignant experiences and observations of momentous events at a personal level rooted in a deep sense of hum...more
In many ways, this book feels just as autobiographical in its insights as it's political revelations dating far enough back to delve into the psychotic cruelty of Stalin for instance. It's a journey into learning by an adventurer who is clearly looking for something, some tie between all the human suffering throughout history wherever it may take place, though this book focuses on the Soviet Union and it's disintegration. This is one of those rich with imagery sort of novels that seems as profou...more
Bob Foulkes
Imperium is a series of connected insights and articles about the Russian empire and its impact on the people under its subjugation since the I9i9 revolution. It is a powerful and disturbing book and a must read for anyone who wants to understand the extent of the evil inflicted on humanity by the Russian regime - the Imperium.

Having returned from election observation missions in Ukraine, I was shocked by his stories of the famine imposed on Ukraine by Stalin in the 1930's. Millions died of sta...more
This is written by a Polish journalist -in three distinct time periods in the Soviet and former Soviet Union: 1939 to 1967, 1989 to 1991, and 1992 to 1993.

As he is travelling (a lot of Central Asia and Siberia) he delves into history, politics, mythology... seamlessly leaping from first person encounters into the stories of a place. In his leaps he reminds me of Sebald. And the things that he describes often seem impossible, fantastical... but they are real. It would be great to read this with...more
The Imperium in question is the USSR and Mr. Kapuscinski, a renowned Polish journalist/philosopher, brings his trademark inquisitiveness to bear on its fearsome collapse. Visiting several regions over the course of several years, we come face-to-face with the destructive burden of governance-by-threat and the humanity surviving beneath it. The history, the policies and the everyday hardship Mr. Kapuscinski relays are stark and stunning in scope. A fine, fine writer who is highly recommended to y...more
Absolutely stunning book. Essentially a series of travel issues from various times within the life and death of the Soviet Union, it is really a series of essays on humanity in all its absurdity, cruelty and occasionally goodness. The first chapter of this book is one of the finest works of literature I've ever read. Subsequent chapters as the author travels across closed borders will strongly affect those who have done so.

Ryszard has a wonderful way of capturing the local feel and nature of a...more
I've read a bunch of his books now, and
1. His best stuff comes when he himself is trying to do something, or get somewhere, or is personally interacting with someone. When he is just describing what he sees around him he's fine but not amazing, and when he is recounting history you can find elsewhere, he's more than a little dubious.
2. The more off the beaten path, the better.
3. He's super entertaining but much of it I don't end up remembering.
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
The travelogue aspect of the narrative can give this a slightly disjointed feel but, after all, this makes no claim to be a definitive history but rather a collection of encounters and personal reminiscences partially illuminated by Kapuscinski's episodic forays into the history of the Russian Empire. What does build is the unavoidable sense of tragedy resultant from the fact that suffering may be at the very centre of the Russian psyche.
May 19, 2007 Meredith rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history geeks
If you haven't read Kapuscinski, you're missing out.

He died in the last year and his obituary was amazing. He travelled all over the world as a foreign correspondent during the period of Soviet domination of Poland. He wrote really insightful books based on his travels (particularly in South America).

This book, Imperium, is about his dealings with the Soviet Empire. Not exactly uplifting but very interesting.
lyell bark
this book is ok but not as good as his books about south america and africa. i liked the parts about the southern and far eastern soviets the most. when he starts waxing on the differences between liberal democracy and a monolithic totalitarianism it's really unhelpful and kind of silly. it's also the same whenever anyone else does that tho so it's not specific to your pal ryszard. bye
Sean Mccarrey
One could not write a better book about the mosaic of cultures that were interwoven which helped to create and destroy the Imperium. It is both the strong hand of the Communist leader and the gentle guiding hand of the people they ruled that Kapuscinski observes in order to paint an amazing picture of an empire, which is at once beautiful and at the same time tragically sad.
César Lasso
In «The Shadow of the Sun» («Ébano» in Spanish) Kapuscinski goes to burning hells in África and in «Imperium» he goes to freezing hells up to Siberia in winter, with that hurricane energy he used to have urging him to go, see, hear, understand and then explain in excellent literature.
A fascinating, highly personal tour throughout the former USSR and the Eastern Bloc. It lacks the exotic locales of Kapuscinski's other works but makes up for it in the emotional content.
Dec 11, 2007 Jake rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you
this is a really nice collection of travels in the soviet and former soviet union: from pinsk to pinsk.
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Kapuscinski claimed he met Che Guevara in Dar in the 60s. It now turns out that they never actually met as, at the time this was supposed to happen, Che was already dead.
More inconsistencies have been pointed out in Kapuscinski's claims, and it made me wonder to what extent the author's stories on Russia are truly his own experiences or perhaps, at least to some extent, simply inventions.

The book consists of three parts. The first recounts Kapuscinski's experiences inside the Soviet Union in t...more
There are many factors that have mythologised and romanticised Russia in the minds of many: of course, the veil of secrecy that has surrounded the place since before, during and after the establishment of the U.S.S.R. has given it a mystique that cannot fail to arouse one's curiosity; its sheer size and location just beyond the comprehension of European consciousness give it a presence that cannot be ignored; and its cultural influence - in terms of its thinkers, its writers and its politics - s...more
Joaquim Alvarado
Obsequi d'un amic meu arran del seu viatge a Polònia (cosa que ha permès que, per primer cop, m'hagi llençat a llegir un llibre en anglès per plaer, no per necessitats professionals), aquest llibre m'ha permès conèixer l'existència d'un periodista polonès, autor de diversos llibres sobre episodis remarcables del segle XX (la guerra del futbol, el règim del sha de Pèrsia, l'Etiòpia de Haile Selassie,...) del qual espero llegir-ne altres coses en el futur.

La principal crítica del llibre que ens oc...more
Paolo Gianoglio
Appunti di viaggio, impressioni, ricostruzioni della storia più recente. Un libro per cercare di capire qualcosa di più di quell’immenso territorio che possiamo identificare come ex URSS. Non solo sotto il profilo storico e geografico, ma anche per respirare sensazioni, stati d’animo, colori. E’ il primo libro di Kapuściński che leggo, e devo ammettere di aver molto apprezzato la prosa fluida, colorata, appassionata e mai pesante. Il libro spazia, l’ordine delle narrazioni è cronologico, ma non...more
Mark Rossiter
Ryszard Kapuściński was a Polish reporter who was sometimes accused of a certain, well, embellishment. It’s true that this astonishing book about the end of the Soviet empire has its moments of what might be described as magical journalism: a little girl in a Siberian city who tells him that when she steps out of her door on a winter morning she can tell which of her classmates have already gone to school by observing the shapes of the tunnels their bodies have carved as they passed in the icy m...more
This fellow, he is a complicated fellow. I don't suppose you could grow up where he did, when he did, wanting to be who he became, without making some terrible compromises, and when I think about his subservience to authoritarian regimes I suppose I understand him a bit. I don't like that part of him, but if I squint I can understand it. If IMPERIUM was a memoir of the self-exploring sort, then I might be put off by him, because of the mild hypocrisies and the lack of reflection, but that's not...more
Luciano Zorzetto
What a beautifully written voyage across decades of Soviet Union! Three sections taking snapshots of the XX century, starting from childhood memories of WWII to the last throes of "the Empire" in 1991.
I knew like everyone of its exalted revolutionary beginnings, then the violence, the huge variety of nations and peoples conquered, the corruption, the absurd length the political class went to in order to keep existing... I had never considered that the URSS was an empire, not "just" the largest c...more
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Ryszard Kapuściński debuted as a poet in Dziś i jutro at the age of 17 and has been a journalist, writer, and publicist. In 1964 he was appointed to the Polish Press Agency and began traveling around the developing world and reporting on wars, coups and revolutions in Asia, the Americas, and Europe; he lived through twenty-seven revolutions and coups, was jailed forty times, and survived four deat...more
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“Biel często kojarzy się z ostatecznością, z kresem, ze śmiercią. W tych kulturach, w których ludzie żyją lękiem przed śmiercią żałobnicy ubierają się na czarno, żeby odstraszyć od siebie śmierć, izolować ją, ograniczyć do zmarłego. Tam jednak, gdzie śmierć jest uważana za inną formę, inną postać istnienia, żałobnicy ubierają się na biało i na biało ubierają zmarłego: biel jest tu kolorem akceptacji, zgody, przystania na los.” 4 likes
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