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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  2,407 ratings  ·  140 reviews
"Imperium" è la narrazione del viaggio di un "esploratore" molto speciale attraverso terre, realtà, storie per lo più ancora sconosciute. Nel momento in cui il grande impero sovietico si dissolve in mille rivoli e staterelli, la cronaca personale di Kapuscinski scopre e racconta oscure e violente realtà, sommerse in una confusione di lingue e culture che rimandano al mondo ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published December 13th 1993 by Feltrinelli (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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I've never seen Russia as an empire. But Kapuscinski convinces me, of its scope, its width, its depth, its beauty, and its terror.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
A riveting, erudite, passionate, and beautifully written bit of historical journalism. Kapuscinski is relentlessly subjective and occasionally whimsical, but one feels that such an approach offers a more telling portrait of its subject (Mother Russia and its imperial dominions) than any more prosaic and fact-laden account ever could.
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
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
I've lived off an on in Russia since 1992, and this book is the best post-mortem I've every read on the USSR. It's a travelogue memoir larded with just enough history. The book is strongest when he is visiting the southern republics that many in the West know little about. I found myself doing a Google image search every few pages to see a photo of something amazing that I'd never heard of even after having visited 4-5 of these -Stans. These sections also remind me of the best of John McPhee.





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
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.
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.
Travel diary of a Polish journalist travelling in (ex-)Soviet countries. The main message is that the USSR was a big concentration camp, ruled with a terror and ruthless exploitation of its citizens. Strict control of all interactions and media was used to suffocate alternative opinions and resistance. Decades of totalitarian rule cannot be easily erased, which can be used to understand the current situation in Russia.

The USSR collapse was finally possible due to superior western development, w
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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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