Practical guidebooks for the more adventurous traveller.
- The Herald
A number of excellent books have been written about the Trans-Siberian rail-
way. Several are unfortunately out of print, though they’re often available
through inter-library loan or second-hand on www.amazon.com. The follow-
ing are well worth reading before you go:
● Journey Into the Mind’s Eye: Fragments of an Autobiography by Lesley
Blanch (1988) is a fascinating book: a witty, semi-autobiographical story of the
author’s romantic obsession with Russia and the Trans-Siberian Railway.
● To the Great Ocean by Harmon Tupper (1965, out of print) gives an entertain-
ing account of Siberia and the building of the railway.
● Guide to the Great Siberian Railway 1900 by AI Dmitriev-Mamanov (David
and Charles 1971, out of print) a reprint of the guide originally published by the
Tsar’s government to publicise their new railway. Highly detailed but interest-
ing to look at.
● Peking to Paris: A Journey across two Continents by Luigi Barzini (1973,
out of print) tells the story of the Peking to Paris Rally in 1907. The author
accompanied the Italian Prince Borghese and his chauffeur in the winning car,
a 40hp Itala. Their route took them across Mongolia and Siberia and for some
of the journey they actually drove along the railway tracks.
● The Big Red Train Ride by Eric Newby. This is a perceptive and entertaining
account of the journey he made in the Soviet era, written in Newby’s character-
istically humorous style.
● Through Siberia by Accident by Dervla Murphy, is a warm and witty
account of this very readable adventurer’s travels in Siberia and the BAM
region in 2003-4.
● In Siberia by Colin Thubron, is the best modern book for background on
Siberia and certainly one you should either read before you go or take with you
on the trip. Thubron’s excellent earlier travelogue, Among the Russians, was
written after his travels in Soviet times.
● The Trans-Siberian Railway: A Traveller’s Anthology edited by Deborah
Manley, is well worth taking on the trip for a greater insight into the railway and the
journey, through the eyes of travellers from Annette Meakin to Bob Geldof. If you
can’t find it in a bookshop it’s available from www.trailblazer-guides.com.
● Paddy Linehan’s Trans-Siberia (2001) is a warm and easily readable account
of a trip made recently – the contemporary flavour shines out a-plenty. You
quickly warm to the author’s unpretentious style.
● The Princess of Siberia (1984) is Christine Sutherland’s very readable biog-
raphy of Princess Maria Volkonskaya, who followed her husband Sergei
Volkonsky to Siberia after he’d been exiled for his part in the Decembrists’
Uprising. Her house in Irkutsk is now a museum (see p276).
● As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me (1955, reprinted 2003) is the true story of the
escape of German prisoner of war, Clemens Forell, from the Siberian Gulag where
he was serving a 25-year hard-labour sentence. It’s a gripping adventure tale.
● Into The Whirlwind is Eugenia Ginzburg’s powerful account of how in 1937
she was arrested and falsely charged as a Trotskyite revolutionary as part of
Stalin’s purges, and sentenced to exile in Siberia. The sequel, Within the
Whirlwind, is no less moving; it describes the 18 years she spent in a Gulag, her
fate shared by hundreds of thousands of Russians. Essential reading.
● Stalin’s Nose: Travels Around the Bloc by Rory Maclean (1992) Maclean
explores the former Eastern Bloc in a battered Trabant with his elderly aunt Zita
and a pig named Winston. He recounts the histories of some of his more notorious
- Contents list
- Planning your route
- Breaking your journey
- What to take
- Background Reading
- Sample Route Guides
- Steam Locomotives in Siberia
- Other Regional Railways
Price: £14.99 buy online now…