Driving Down Russia's Spine: Tracking the Russian Soul from the Arctic to the Black Sea

Russian Life. Jun. 2016. 330p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781880100455. pap. $15. TRAV
A Russian and an American journalist travel some 6,000 kilometers through Russia, searching for insight into modern Russian life. For the most part, the work by American Richardson (editor, Russian Life magazine) succeeds. He and his collaborator Mikhail Mordasov drive a small car from the Norwegian border, through the Arctic Circle, to St. Petersburg and Moscow and south to Sochi and many spots in between. The first section of the book is full of maddeningly short descriptions that don't do justice to the geography or the people. The remaining sections guide readers from St. Petersburg to Sochi, with fewer independent segments that lead more naturally from one to another. Richardson is an insightful writer, giving character and beauty to the people and places they encounter. The biggest drawback here is that Richardson doesn't allow himself more space to devote to some of these locales and stories.
VERDICT An intriguing read for anyone interested in Russian history or society or truly dedicated armchair travelers.
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