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Russia: A Journey to the Heart of a Land and its People

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  185 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Russia is a country in transition. It is a land of exotic treasures with a culture rich in world-famous artists, writers and musicians. It is a swiftly modernizing economy yet still a place of corruption, suppression, and secrecy, shaking off its recent, bloody past of Communist dictatorship.

Russia may no longer be seen to rival America, but with control over a huge porti
Paperback, 624 pages
Published April 2nd 2009 by BBC Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Mikey B.
From Page 228 (my book) Oleg
“Who’s to blame? Of course we could blame the government and we could blame our leaders, but I reckon we have to blame ourselves, me and millions of Russians. Why? Because we don’t vote, we don’t believe in anything, we don’t believe that it will make a difference. We get leaders we deserve. We steal and we think nothing of stealing because everyone is stealing.”

To begin with the author is certainly opinionated, so this is no National Geographic travelogue that espous
Jun 01, 2012 Dеnnis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comment from Russian perspective

Let me comment on it from Russian perspective: I think it is an exceptionally good book on the matter. One can only wonder where does this vitriol of the reviewers seep from?
First, to me the book feels absolutely objective. I unlike other foreign reviewers haven’t sensed any bad feelings toward my country and its people or at least the ones that significantly affects his ability to perceive reality objectively and I was never offended. I had a luxury of traveling
This book was titled wrongly. Instead of Russia: A journey to the Heart of a Land and Its People, perhaps a more apt title would have been Russia: What's Wrong With It and How Much I Hate It in 550 Pages or Less. If the latter had been it's title then at least I would have gotten what I expected.

Jonathan Dimbleby makes no secret in this book that he thinks that Russia is broken, and that it breaks everything it touches. According to the author, it would seem, the country is broken, the people ar
May 20, 2015 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-books, world
I thoroughly enjoyed this book . It is written from an intensely personal viewpoint, you feel you are seeing Russia through the eyes of someone who is very much an individual, and very much a Renaissance man - greatly experienced in politics and current events, yet he obviously enjoys the arts too. He makes the most wonderful companion for this epic journey through Russia.

Some of the subjects he covered that I found particularly fascinating, (in no particular order):

*Various excellent descriptio
Gary Knapton
Sep 14, 2015 Gary Knapton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With some unexpected revelations about the author's own personal emotional pain, this is a terrific west to east journey right across the diameter of Russia, split into chapters named after each region and with maps that I found very useful and to which I referred often.

Jonathan goes off the beaten track to meet the people but of course you get the obvious callings from the canals of St Petersburg to the caviar of Astrakhan as we follow the Volga through the Urals and into Siberia.

It's mystical,
Jul 16, 2011 Jan rated it really liked it
This is a very good book,a journey throug Russia but also about the people, the politics and the history of this great nation. If you want to understand something about Russia in general but also about Putinism now, this is a book for you.
Oct 15, 2010 Steven rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, history, fact
An interesting read that provides alot of background information on Russia history as Dimbleby travels across the country from Murmansk in the north-west to Vladivostok in the far east.

The book starts with Dimbleby suffering from depression & this is carried into his writing with him wanting to be home with his family & complaining about most this other than the vodka. It is not a typical travel book in that it contains to real information about the towns & cities visited along the w
May 30, 2012 Jayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the BBC series when it aired, having long since held a fascination for Russia. The book didn't disappoint either.

I expected it to just be a recounting of the places Jonathon visited and the people he met, along with a few anecdotes along the way. It was all that and more.

Jonathon takes us on a social, historical, political and personal journey as he travels this vast continent.It is an in depth account of the lives of those who live, work and play in Russia and includes some fra
Maggie Galbraith
Oct 05, 2014 Maggie Galbraith rated it it was ok
I really liked the book and the russian journey, but the whining author drive me nuts!
Mr Knowles
An informative and, at times, moving account of the author's travels through Russia.
Jun 16, 2015 Lysergius rated it really liked it
Mammoth in scope, it documents a journey of 10,000 miles from Murmansk to Vladivostock through Putin's Russia - the crypto-facist state. On one level a travleogue, on another a pyschological journey though his own inner world, Jonathan Dimbleby has produced a fine insight into modern Russia. A must read for Russophiles.
Claire S.
I was initially excited about this book, but my enthusiasm waned it became clear that Dimbleby's journey through this immense land was accompanied by his persistent depression, longing to be back home, and an almost dislike of Russia and its history. I quit reading three quarters of the way through the 576 pages.
Aug 11, 2013 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so well written that I didn't want to get to the end. Dimbleby was experiencing some personal lows at the time of writing and his odyssey was personal as well as geographical/social commentary. He is insightful and critical but always fair - a remarkable book to read while living here.
Mar 24, 2012 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, intelligent, emphatic and personal. provides you with new and not so new perspectives on the enormous diversity of Russian history, geography, peoples and views. Strongly recommended for anyone trying to get more depth and variety on how to understand Russia.
Jan 25, 2009 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book demonstrates why someone should not go to Russia (or any country)for a substantial period of time when they are depressed.
Alison Sloggett
Very interesting, had insight into Russia and the authors own life at the time, quite a long read, but didnt feel that trying to read
Jan 04, 2012 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The subject is just too interesting to be ruined by the author's constant smug-gittery.
Jagadeesh Mothilal
A very last minute impulse buy at the airport
Mar 24, 2011 Velvetink marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
L is reading it.
545 pages
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Jonathan Dimbleby is a writer and filmmaker based in England. His five-part series on Russia was broadcast by BBC2 and accompanied by his book Russia: A Journal to the Heart of a Land and its People. Destiny in the Desert was recently nominated for the Hessell-Tiltman History Prize.
More about Jonathan Dimbleby...

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