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Among the Russians

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  407 ratings  ·  33 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 1,051)
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Ivan
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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Lisa
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
Vikas Datta
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!
Tim
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
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
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
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
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
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Aposprout
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 3 of 5 stars
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
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
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
A fascinating insight into Russia and its people.
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
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
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
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.
Jintong Shi
A great travel literature by a British author who drove all the way to Russia from UK, during the Cold War.

And after my trip in Russia, I found it interesting.

I recommended to my Russian friend about this book.f

Though this time, not like what is in the book, no KGB tailing me, lol...



Daisy
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
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
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
travelled to Russia independently in early 1980s. Very interesting insight into the lives of people under communism
Cindy Brandner
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
[Colin_Thubron]_Among_the_Russians(BookFi.org) pdf
Jeremy Burtt
Well written glimpse into 1980 Soviet Union...
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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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