East of the Sun: The Epic Conquest and Tragic History of Siberia
, 1992 - History
- 542 pages
In sweep, color, and grandeur, the conquest and settlement of Siberia compares with the winning of the American West. It is the greatest pioneering story in human history, uniquely combining the heroic colonization of an intractable virgin land, the ghastly dangers and high adventure of Arctic exploration, and the grimmest saga of penal servitude in the chronicles of man. Four hundred years of continual human striving chart its course, a drama of unremitting extremes and elemental confrontations, pitting man against nature, and man against man. East of the Sun, a work of panoramic scope and brilliance, is the first complete account of this strange and terrible story. To most Westerners, Siberia is a vast and mysterious place. The richest resource area on the face of the earth, its land mass covers 5 million square miles - 7 1/2 percent of the total land surface of the globe. From the first foray in 1581 across the Ural Mountains by a band of Cossack outlaws to the fall of Gorbachev, East of the Sun is history on a grand scale. With vivid immediacy, Bobrick describes the often brutal subjugation of Siberia's aboriginal tribes and the cultures that were destroyed; the great eighteenth-century explorations that defined Siberia's borders and Russia's attempt to "extend" Siberia further with settlements in Alaska, California, and Hawaii; and the transformation of Siberia into a penal colony for criminal and political exiles, an experiment more terrible than Australia's Botany Bay. There is the building of the stupendous Trans-Siberian Railway across seven time zones; Siberia's key role in the bloody aftermath of the October Revolution in 1917; and Stalin's dreaded Gulag, which corrupted itsvery soil. Today, Siberia is the hope of Russia's future, now that all her appended republic have broken away. Its story has never been more timely.