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Your email address will not be published.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

The streets of Paris

"One of the advantages of repeated visits to a place is the leisure pace of awe and discovery while drifting slowly down the worn streets of the French capital."

Roaming through Banff

"Even though the main town is surrounded by mountains with names such as Sulphur Mountain, it is as far away from Mordor as one could imagine."

Chilling in Chile

"My weary feet has reached Valparaiso. After almost a month of traveling across the South American continent I realize that this is as far south as I will come, due to weather conditions."

Reliving history in Washington D.C.

"As I entered the heavily guarded Rotunda in the center, some of the most famous documents in the world laid before me."

Conquering Machu Picchu

"A life-long dream came true this morning, as I stood upon the mountain looking down at Machu Picchu. I felt like some strange mix between Indiana Jones and a small boy, gazing down upon the final treasure of the Incas."

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."