Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Spirit-Wrestlers” as Want to Read:
The Spirit-Wrestlers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Spirit-Wrestlers

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  52 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
The new book from the acclaimed author of The Crossing Place and The Bronski House.

In Moscow, a man points on a map to the place where he was born. He is a Doukhobor, a 'spirit-wrestler', a member of a group of radical Russian sectarians. He is pointing to a village beyond the southern steppe, at the far south of the old Russian empire: 'I was born here, ' he says. 'On the
Paperback, 256 pages
Published 1999 by Flamingo
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Spirit-Wrestlers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Spirit-Wrestlers

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
For me this book is the perfect 3.5 - not quite deserving of a 4 but definitely better than a 3. Let me try and figure out why.

Back in the mid-1990s, Philip Marsden went walkabout one summer in southern Russia and the Caucasus. The Soviet Union had only just broken up, but the many conflicts of the region - Chechnya, Ingushetia, Ossetia, Abkhazia - were already set in motion. Marsden travelled in a sullen landscape of shell scars, distant rifle shots, border posts bound up in the hostile snow.
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this slim paperback from the dollar rack of a local bookstore, even though I generally avoid travel writing. The authors always seem to be living the high life. How difficult is it to wax lyrical about dining in the finest restuarants or sleeping in five-star hotels? Being a Russophile, and having already failed to finish several massive tomes about the history of that country (The New Russians, Inside Russia Today), I figured a buck was an acceptable risk. This book was such a compe ...more
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was given to me by a friend after they read my novel set in Siberia. The Dragunov Deception. Philip Marsden's work is a meditative account of his fascinating solo journey through remote parts of Russia. This is a really first rate piece of writing and transcends travel journalism, deserving to be a future classic. He observes, comments but never crudely judges what he sees. He moves into the landscape not merely across it as a traveller. He has left an account of much that is quietly h ...more
Haydn Corper
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Forget the usual travelogue. This is a an insightful and fascinating voyage of discovery through the beliefs and spiritual traditions of peoples from Moscow to Armenia. Written from a very personal perspective, the book could have been pretentious; its not. Its tightly written, with beautiful descriptions of people and the places they inhabit. The author's astute observations about the soul of the communities he engages with tells us more about them than than any number of sociological treatises ...more
Jun 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange journey from the banks of the Don to the Caucasus in the footsteps of the weird sect of the Doukhobors, the 'Spirit wrestlers'. Not sure I follow the logic of the book sometimes, but some of the characters and situations and anecdotes made this an enjoyable read for me. Especially the Caucasus section.
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and well-written insight into the Russian Soul, filled with interesting characters and anecdotes. For anyone that's spent any time in the former Soviet Union, you will find much to relate to in the book.
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Reveals mysticism in rural Russia so ingrained that decades of oppression couldn't snuff it out. Fascinating stuff!
Took me quite a while to get through but I found it very interesting and it provided a lot of history.
rated it really liked it
May 15, 2011
rated it really liked it
Oct 26, 2011
Carrie Stevenson
rated it really liked it
Jan 29, 2011
Tom Allen
rated it really liked it
May 20, 2013
Terri Adamson
rated it liked it
Jul 10, 2014
rated it it was amazing
Dec 18, 2016
rated it really liked it
Nov 10, 2013
rated it liked it
Mar 09, 2009
rated it really liked it
Nov 03, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Jan 14, 2012
rated it liked it
Aug 10, 2011
rated it liked it
Apr 10, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Jun 25, 2010
rated it liked it
Feb 27, 2014
Jon Sullivan
rated it it was ok
Oct 26, 2013
rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2016
rated it really liked it
Aug 25, 2006
rated it it was amazing
Sep 08, 2013
Ted Holland
rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2017
rated it really liked it
May 23, 2011
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Philip Marsden is the author of a number of works of travel writing, fiction and non-fiction, including The Bronski House, The Spirit Wrestlers and The Levelling Sea. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and his work has been translated into fifteen languages. He lives in Cornwall.
More about Philip Marsden...