Mink Machine

Review: Imperium

Imperium

Ryszard Kapuscinski passed away some years ago but his legacy stays with us. He is perhaps better known for The Soccer War, an account of tensions in Central America. It is also a good read but in my opinion not as inspiring for traveling as Imperium.

It all starts with Kapuscinski traveling through the Soviet Union in 1958. The Trans-Siberian railway was no picnic back then with barb wire, angry dogs and suspicious inspections on the train. It is followed by eye-witness accounts of a country no longer existing. The tales of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour which was demolished by Stalin and the tragic destruction of the Aral Sea with its surroundings are two examples of stories so bizarre that they would make you laugh if they were not painfully true.

One of the most memorable episodes has Kapuscinski jumping off a bus in the middle of nowhere, walking through pitch dark in extreme cold weather in search of a mining worker. Another is when he tries to board a plane at the desolate airport in Syktyvkar.

The final chapter is a view into the “future”, written in 1993. Kapuscinski shares his vision of what will happen with the shattered nation which is quite interesting to read now, over 15 years later when many of his predictions have come true.

This is definitely a must-read before any trip to Russia! I read it for the first time about five years ago and later it gave me a lot of perspective on my Trans-Siberian journey.

Comments

No comments yet.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured stories

Alone in Kyoto

"I tried my best to sneak across the building, but the floor revealed me each time. I suppose I would make a lousy ninja."

Eating my way through Basque country

"Not too bad to wash it all down with a local Txakoli, the young white wine typical of the Basque country."

Road trip across the American Southwest

"We drove along Route 6, Route 66 and Route 666. If there was a Route 6666, we must have missed that turn."

Greetings from Moldova

"But Chisinau is an unexpected gem in the wilderness. Even though Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, the capital has its fair share of impressive buildings and post-Soviet architecture."

Visions of Singapore

"By extensive use of landfill with sand bought from Indonesia and Cambodia, the bay area has expanded greatly in the last few years and tall buildings pop up everywhere."

The lakes of Lombardy

"The town of Como, largest settlement around Lake Como, attracts a lot of people with big wallets. But I preferred to take the funicular up the mountain to the Brunate region, where you get a much better view of the lake."