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East of the Sun: The Epic Conquest and Tragic History of Siberia

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  113 ratings  ·  19 reviews
In sweep, color & grandeur, the conquest & settlement of Siberia compares with the winning of the American West. It's the greatest pioneering story in history, uniquely combining the heroic colonization of an intractable virgin land, the ghastly dangers & high adventure of Arctic exploration, & the grimmest saga of penal servitude. 400 years of continual human striving cha ...more
Hardcover, 1st, 542 pages
Published October 1st 1992 by Poseidon Press/Simon & Schuster (NY) (first published January 1st 1992)
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Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hana by: Kinga
Siberia! "The name itself is a mystical term, derived from the Mongolian siber ('beautiful', 'wonderful' and 'pure') and the Tartar sibir, which means 'the sleeping land'."

Large mountain ranges and deserts cut across it to the south.

To the west lie the Urals, the boundary between Europe and Asia.

Majestic volcanoes on its far eastern horizons form part of the Pacific rim of fire.

Its mighty rivers rival the Mississippi and Nile; each of its three major river basins are larger than the whole of We
Tim Pendry

This is a solid enough account of Russian Imperial acquisition of the wastes and resources of Siberia albeit one marred by a decline (it was written in 1992) into anti-Soviet and very incomplete history once the brutal and chaotic Russian Civil War is over.

My cynical side notes that the British Edition simply refers in the sub-heading to the conquest and settlement of Siberia but the American edition suddenly makes this an 'epic conquest' and 'tragic'. One senses two chapters tagged on to give
Barbara Carder
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Siberia ~ yuh, mysterious, but more to the point: wretched, century after century. I lived on Baranof Island in Alaska and now I know Alexandr Baranov . . . and Vitus Bering. This researcher spared no sentiment and the history of Siberia is brutal, cruel, freezing and then the midges. Americans should read this piece of history -- book published in 1992 -- somewhat dated.
Daniel Polansky
A grand an entertaining history of Russia's conquest and colonization of Siberia, from Ivan the Great to Stalin (chronologically if not morally distant). I learned some things I didn't know, I got some ideas for a sort of magical western novel that I might someday write, after I write about five other books and assuming I don't get hit by a car crossing the street this afternoon. A worthwhile read, all around. Were there sword fights: I mean, there aren't any literal descriptions of anyone going ...more
Paul Metting
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and a good read. My first book written by this author, I plan to read more from him.
Jon Palmer
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book on a whim after learning an insane statistic regarding Siberia's enormous size: its population density of about 7.8 people per square mile makes it one of the most sparsely populated areas on the planet, yet some 33 million people live there. Bored and forced into COVID/unemployment seclusion, I bought Mr. Bobrick's book on a whim, wanting to know more about the people who lived there and their story. It was the best decision of my pandemic experience.

Siberia is both overwhel
Wesley Giesbrecht
The place of Siberia in Russian history is undeniably multifaceted. The initial expansion was based upon the lucrative fur industry, bearing some resemblance to the early colonies in Canada. As the Russians continued to push Eastwards, the colonization took on an exploratory nature, similar to the experience of other European states exploring the uncharted corners of the world. Empress Catherine the Great explicitly compared her desired relationship between Siberia and European Russia in terms o ...more
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a fascinating overview of the history of Siberia from prehistoric times through the present, now about 20 % of Russian population. Its remarkably rapid conquest and settlement, the role of the trans-Siberian railway in its development around 1900, its important role during world war II when over 300 Russian industries were moved east away from invading Germans, the gulags' appalling history starting in 1930, and how it all related to the turbulent political history of Russia including the Russia ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very detailed coverage of the Russian "conquest," exploration and settlement of Siberia starting in the 1500's. The coverage of the Stalin years is extremely depressing to read. ...more
Very interesting read of how Russia moved east, somewhat similar to how the US moved west.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Let's begin by agreeing that trekking across Siberia in the 1600s is a bat-crazy thing to do. Sure, there was enormous wealth to be made in the fur trade, but still...Of course this makes for awe-inspiring reading. Bobrick's history of Siberia is epic. It covers 400 years, from the late 1500s to the gulags of the twentieth century. It is also a visceral experience; here is a passage about the Aleuts that has stuck with me: "Their common garments were birdskin parkas (made from bellies of horned ...more
Erik Graff
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Siberia/Russia fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Never having read a history of Siberia, I can't take issue with the author's treatment of the subject. As a first book on the subject it serves well, though the reader would certainly benefit from some prior knowledge about Russian history from the 16th century to the present.

The most interesting reflections this study presented were those comparing and contrasting the Russian experience with its East with the American experience with its West. There are obvious parallels, but serious contrasts
Douglas Zorn
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Entertaining narrative of Siberian history
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating stuff! I stayed up late into the night reading the story of Steller's expedition, and that's just one chapter!

Quite a few typos in the edition that I read, however, and although it was good on the native peoples of Siberia, there was nothing on throat singing! Still, it doesn't deserve less than five stars.
Aug 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Who knew the history of Siberia could be so engaging? I read this long before I ended up in a job that actually dealt with Siberian history. This was actually an enjoyable read, which is saying something given the subject matter.
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent…………How one country can eliminate over 7 mil of its citizens and carry no shame…...
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
thorough history of the conquest of Siberia
Aug 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
exquisitely readable, bobrick is probably my only favorite author who doesn't write fiction. the story-telling here is impeccable, and in no way suffers from the accident of being factual. ...more
Mar 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Footnotes would've been cool, but its a great read, chuck-full of detail. ...more
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Benson Bobrick earned his doctorate from Columbia University and is the author of several critically acclaimed works. In 2002, he received the Literature Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He and his wife, Hilary, live in Vermont.

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