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Among the Russians

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  455 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Here is a fresh perspective on the last tumultuous years of the Soviet Union and an exquisitely poetic travelogue.With a keen grasp of Russia's history, a deep appreciation for its architecture and iconography, and an inexhaustible enthusiasm for its people and its culture, Colin Thubron is the perfect guide to a country most of us will never get to know firsthand. Here, w ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1983)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,196)
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Ivan
Jun 24, 2012 Ivan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was born in the USSR in 1984 and left post-Soviet Russia in 1995 for the US.

17 years later, I read this travelogue and had mixed feelings about it because although Thubron is a great descriptive writer, his interpretation of the Soviet Union of the 1980s is somewhat simplistic and firmly rooted in Cold War-era British biases.

The name, "Among the Russians" (likely chosen to move units on the shelves) is a misnomer since he spends half his time in the Soviet republics with Belorussians, Estonian
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Vikas Datta
Jun 08, 2015 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of a meandering trip through the European part of the then Soviet Union, from the Baltics to the Black Sea and down the Caucasus, in the days when the USSR was a power to reckon with... Mr Thubron draws some memorable characterisations of various people he encountered and compelling descriptions of this enormous swathe of territory including beaches, mountains, forests and extensive plains... A most nostalgic read!
Lisa
Dec 16, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, this author sounds like he swallowed a thesaurus, but overall, this was a well-formed and kind of poetic travelogue. The title is misleading. He was actually not only traveling through the Russia in 1980, but also through the Soviet states of Belarus, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Ukraine. Summary: Really great travelogue, but I didn't want to hear about his personal political opinions because it sounded like he'd just start in on people and it seemed pretty rude.

I took off on
...more
Tim
Oct 02, 2011 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thubron has a way of writing that few others can match, let alone the average travel writer. His knowledge of his subject is so thorough it would make a guidebook blush, but he expresses it in the most accessible way you feel like you are learning the history of Russia without ever feeling you are getting a history lesson. His writing is as incredible as his journey: a trip through Breshnev's pre-Glasnost USSR in a British car. He gets drunk with dissidents and the agents that the KGB sets on hi ...more
Thorlakur
Sep 05, 2015 Thorlakur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful account of an Englishman abroad, more precisely a car ride through Russia and its surrounding Soviet republics in 1982. Mr. Thubron is an excellent pen, sympathetic to his subjects, but yet critical of the absurdities of the Soviet system.
Jan-Maat
An OK travel book that in hindsight is less about the Russians and more a set of postcards of life in the late Soviet Union.

Thubron managed to travel individually as a one-man group. He drove a fair part of his journey and was able to stay at campsites. What struck him was the size of the country, alien to anyone from Western Europe and the sameness of material life that gave the country a strong feeling of blandness.

Really this is more of historical interest now, not so much because of changes
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Julián
Sep 09, 2015 Julián rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: viajes, rusia
Pues nada, no aprendo. que sigo empeñado en leer libros de viajes después de haberle perdido el gusto a este género. En este caso, el interés que se me ha vuelto a despertar por Rusia y la enorme calidad del autor parecían justificar que me embarcara en la lectura de este libro. Pero no, ni por esas. El punto de partida es alentador: un autor espléndido como Thubron recorre en automóvil buena parte de la Unión Soviética europea a principios de los ochenta, todavía a varios años de la apertura de ...more
Vandita
Jul 28, 2013 Vandita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
A perfect travel companion read when travelling in Russia. This travelogue by Colin Thubron is 'dated' in a way as it was written during his travels in the Soviet Union Russia (i.e. includes the countries which have now become independent e.g. Estonia, Lithuania and not just present day Russia) in early 1980s when the Union was under the Communist regime. Much has changed since then in Russia's place under the sun, its politics, its geographical boundaries, existential questions/ ideologies whic ...more
mary + rick hamilton
A meaningful read

Following my recent trip to St. Petersburg, this was an interesting read. I must admit, I read only the Leningrad and Tallinn portions of Thubron's book, but it is a heartfelt recounting of his amazing trip. Some of the language is little overblown for me, but it was his journey, and he tells the story well. I enjoyed the walkabout in St. Petersburg and Tallinn story of the pastor.
Gerald Sinstadt
This Thubron admirer was disappointed. At the time of which the author writes, I was a fairly frequent visitor to Russia . Although only to Moscow and Leningrad (as it then was), I can vouch that this book paints a true enough picture - the blank-eyed document checks, the huge menus but only chicken Kiev available, the endless vodka toasts, the subterranean rebels against the system

The problem is that the system had ironed out many idiosyncrasies - as a generality, the people and the issues were
...more
Aposprout
Jun 09, 2012 Aposprout rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found myself completely engrossed in this book. It is a travel log of the author's time in Russia in 1980. It reads as a sort of series of vignettes as he flits from one encounter to the next. The people he meets are fascinating and bleak.

He is quite descriptive and I truly enjoyed the passages in which he describes his encounters with the land, the nature of the Soviet Union.

In some ways the story was almost too short - I wish he'd spent more time on analysis (especially on his experiences
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Paul Goings
Good travelogue of the Soviet Union of my adolescence. Lots of interesting details, but oddly lacking in depth in places, perhaps because identities still needed to be concealed when the book was first published? Still, it detracted a bit from the narrative.
Anny
Sep 10, 2014 Anny rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
The whole book was drenched in a somber, melancholic tone. It might as well been titled "Among the Unhappy". The lands were majestic, yet it made one felt all the smaller because of it. The government was full of propaganda and lies, much like it's other Communist neighbor, China (at least it's not as bad as north korea). And the people either sad or drunk (at least most of the men were).
Clyde Birkholz
Jan 26, 2015 Clyde Birkholz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He was there at the right moment. Wish he would let the story tell itself instead of filtering it through his ego and overwrought vocabulary.
Peter
Jun 29, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This can be a little tough going, as Thubron's journey is unrelentingly grim as this occured while the Russians were still under Communist rule. Grim might not be the right word, maybe melancholy would be better. Interesting that in his portrait of the character of the Russian people, he makes sure to include how important it is to understanding how vital religion is to the Russian people. At the time, the people he meets seem resigned to their fate under Communist rule, yet overwhelmingly proud ...more
A.M. Oldroyd
Mar 20, 2014 A.M. Oldroyd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
A fascinating insight into Russia and its people.
Джей Мэлоун
Wish I could write like this
Eduard Grebe
I would give this a higher rating--it is brilliantly written and not for a second boring--were it not for the quiet disdain that infuses the entire book. Even when Thubron likes the people he meets, they seem to fall into one of two categories: stupid and naive patriots who parrot what they've been taught to believe and independent-minded but somewhat pathetic simpletons, like overgrown, headstrong children. I am exaggerating of course, but a toffish superiority really does shine through, and of ...more
Martha
Jul 06, 2013 Martha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This is Soviet Russia and, so, for some too dated but I enjoyed it for the reasons I enjoy all good travel books: the intensity of the traveler and the quirkiness of the people the traveler meets.

Thubron and a Russian vow that if they ever meet in battle they will not shoot at each other. It was a sad reminder of Thomas Hardy's poem The Man I Killed.

It would be nice to read a travel book by, say, a Russian who traveled in the US. Know any translations?
Morleymor
Dec 30, 2013 Morleymor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The enigma of the Soviet Russian's acceptance of a communist government is discussed and possibly explained. Although an entertaining read the reading experience is spoiled by fanciful and unrealistic descriptions. Quite a journey!!
Tessa
Jul 13, 2012 Tessa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
An extremely intelligent and talented writer. This memoir was pure poetry from cover to cover. Very heavy and academic - which makes sense in light of the subject matter - but not quite what I am after in a travel read. Still, the flawless execution of the prose has left me interested in reading more Thubron.
Daisy
Mar 31, 2008 Daisy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
Glorious book written by an American journalist living in Communist Russia. Although some of it might seem a little outdated now that communism has "fallen", in reality, many of the societal issues of the Russia remain the same. Funny, weird and disturbing - a phenomenal culture shock.
Kate
Jan 12, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of stereotypes that get frustrating, but nevertheless a really interesting book that captures the zeitgeist of the USSR on the verge of dissolution. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.
Pablo
Good book, interesting time and place to be for a westerner. Well written, at times beautifully, and yet lost my attention at points - not sure why. 3 stars and worth the read.
Ashley Bergman Carlin
Colin Thubron is an incredible writer, and he's written about a very unique time in Russian history. For those reasons, I really enjoyed this book.
Noreen
If a whole country is depressed it would be Russia. Not that they don't have good reason to be depressed. Sad.
Esther
Feb 05, 2008 Esther rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
travelled to Russia independently in early 1980s. Very interesting insight into the lives of people under communism
Cindy Brandner
Oct 17, 2009 Cindy Brandner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love all Colin Thubron's books about Russia, though 'In Siberia' is the finest of the trilogy in my opinion.
Aaron
How many things are the same in modern Russia and the FSU.
Velvetink
Aug 03, 2013 Velvetink marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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Colin Thubron, CBE FRSL is a Man Booker nominated British travel writer and novelist.

In 2008, The Times ranked him 45th on their list of the 50 greatest postwar British writers. He is a contributor to The New York Review of Books, The Times, The Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Thubron was appointed a CBE in the 2007
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