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Imperium: ondergang van een wereldrijk

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  3,023 Ratings  ·  182 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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Hadrian
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
Jonfaith
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
Maciek
Dec 29, 2014 Maciek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
PL: Recenzja w dwóch językach - tekst angielski znajduje się pod polskim.
ENG: This is a bilingual review - English text is presented below.

PL: Moja babcia urodziła się w małej wsi pod Lwowem w 1937 roku. Wraz z prababcią przeżyły najazd OUN-UPA chowając się w piwnicy swojego domostwa, podczas gdy wieś płonęła żywym ogniem i płynęła krwią pomordowanych. Obie jakimś cudem przetrwały rozmaite okupacje i represje, aż w końcu po wojnie zostały ostatecznie przesiedlone do małej miejscowości na nowym p
...more
Hana
In 1917 an entire world went mad; a madness that came to be called the Soviet Union. The persecutions and wars that began with the October Revolution and that lasted for decades were marked by an almost incomprehensible series of mass exterminations; between 1918 and 1953 an estimated 54-110 million citizens of the USSR perished of unnatural causes. The Soviets left behind an enduring legacy of poverty, demoralization and ecological catastrophe.

Deftly weaving historical narrative, personal trav
...more
Adam
Jun 05, 2012 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Andy
Jun 20, 2007 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  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
Giovanna
Jun 27, 2015 Giovanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imperium è un lungo viaggio nei territori che appartenevano all'Unione Sovietica. Ormai ha i suoi anni, ma continua a parlare con voce forte e chiara anche oggi. Il punto di forza del libro è sicuramente lo sguardo personale di Kapuscinski, che non parla mai per sentito dire, ma racconta solo quello che ha visto, sentito e toccato con mano; in effetti, i passaggi più coinvolgenti sono quelli in cui l'autore racconta le sue esperienze personali (le pagine sulla visita nel Nagorno Karabakh, per es ...more
Sandra
Mar 09, 2013 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aelena
May 06, 2015 Aelena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of memories and explorations of the USSR by this journalist. The author undertakes an amazing journey through the most remote and inhospit corners of the old soviet empire, in those key years when the state of that empire is decrepit and crumbling.

Ryszard brings us the lost voices and stories of anonymous people who suffered the enormous atrocities of the stalin years, the forced famines, the millions and millions executed, or sent to die of hunger, neglect and forced work
...more
Wanda
Oct 05, 2010 Wanda rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Michal Mironov
Mar 17, 2016 Michal Mironov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good mosaic from various travels to USSR throughout longer period. In the first part of book, it was obvious that author couldnt write freely about political situation, thus his remarks were mainly limited on describing culture and daily life of numerous nations trapped in huge soviet Imperium. With glasnost and perestroika undergoing in the late 80-ies, Kapuściński feels strong enough to openly criticise unhuman system and uncovers many dark sides of crumbling, but somehow still mysterious em ...more
linhtalinhtinh
Feb 03, 2015 linhtalinhtinh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-lit, non-fic
I've never seen Russia as an empire. But Kapuscinski convinces me, of its scope, its width, its depth, its beauty, and its terror.
Luis González
Dec 08, 2015 Luis González rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kapuściński was my best personal discovery of the year. His wit, his enormous culture and his historical perspective make him a must for today's journalists and readers. About this book: it is inevitable to find a justified Polish hatred towards Russia and the Soviet Union as a factor in the depiction of many real atrocities perpetrated by the regime. That being said, many testimonies of Siberian residents are appalling, and so are many other stories about the bureaucratic machine told all aroun ...more
Táňa Sedláková
jedna z najzásadnejších kníh aké som čítala. za tie drásavé vzdychy po dlhých sekundách zatajovaného dychu pri pomyslení na výpočet veľmocou tajených ohavností minulosti, prítomnosti aj možné riziká budúcna to poznanie stojí! Ryszard Kapuściński je podľa mňa génius. Napísať reportáž takto zrozumiteľne, jasne, citlivo a pútavo, takto vzbudzovať zvedavosť, záujem, odvahu a áno, vôľu žiť, na to nepostačuje vyšší intelekt, to chce celého cnostného výnimočného človeka - vau!
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.
Kirstie
Aug 19, 2010 Kirstie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Elīna
Aug 06, 2015 Elīna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
I read it and I felt as if I had lost a genuine friend. He writes about his travels across the USSR and (later - the former republics), from Armenia to Kolyma's horrors, from Central Asian ecological problems (caused by the regime's "most reasonable minds") to Moscow, the Third Rome, as some believe...

In my view the book is an ultimate success: the classics of reportage. Everyone interested in professional journalism must read this one.

I only wished I could read Polish, since I am more than cer
...more
Jan
Sep 18, 2011 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 19, 2013 Mike Clinton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Bettie☯
I always think that a book with a handwritten and personalised inscription should be kept:

Joan
Happy (belated) Birthday 2002
Jamie x


Translated from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska. The book is in three sections:

First Encounters (1939-1967)

From the Preface: I tell about the entrance of soviet troops into my hometowm in the Peloise region of Poland (today this is Belorussia), and a journey across a snow-covered and desolate Siberia, about an expedition to Transcaucasia and to the republics of Centr
...more
Paolo Gianoglio
Jan 08, 2014 Paolo Gianoglio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Scott
Kapuscinski is always brilliant, and his lifelong run-ins with Russia and the Soviet Union set the stage for this work very well. He is at his best journeying through the periphery of the Imperium - the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Ukraine. It is here that his innate sense of adventure and his brilliant ability to engage normal people and, through their eyes, draw a picture of life in a foreign land - foreign because it is different, changing, developing, facing the chaos of change or political u ...more
Bob Foulkes
Jan 01, 2013 Bob Foulkes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrea SadLuck
Mar 19, 2016 Andrea SadLuck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Skvelá kniha, výborné situácie, zaujímavo a pútavo podané a v neposlednom rade veľmi dobrý preklad. Vyberám obľúbenú pasáž z knihy: "Svetu hrozia tri pliagy, tri morové rany. Prvá pliaga - nacionalizmus. Druhá - rasizmus. Tretia - náboženský fundamentalizmus. Tieto tri pliagy majú rovnakú črtu, spoločného menovateľa - je to agresívna, všemocná, totálna iracionalita. Nie je možné preniknúť do vedomia zasiahnutého niektorou touto pliagou. V takejto hlave horí svätá hranica, ktorá iba čaká na obete ...more
Aurora
Dec 16, 2007 Aurora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Antigone
Dec 26, 2013 Antigone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Meredith
May 19, 2007 Meredith rated it really liked it  ·  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.
David
Aug 03, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Andrew
If anyone can write about the Soviet Empire with grace, wit, observation, and creativity, it would be Ryszard Kapuscinski. All of his usual themes are there-- war, poverty, despotism, perception, memory-- but directed towards a more northerly clime, although with less distance. Kapuscinski could comfortably write about Africa with the sense of remove that comes with an outsider stance. In Imperium, he writes as someone who has spent all of his life under the shadow of the empire.
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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.” 5 likes
“All dictators, irrespective of epoch or country, have one common trait: they know everything, are experts on everything. The thoughts of Qadaffi and Ceauşescu, Idi Amin and Alfredo Stroessner—there is no end to the profundities and wisdom. Stalin was expert on history, economics, poetry, and linguistics. As it turned out, he was also expert on architecture.” 4 likes
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