River of No Reprieve: Descending Siberia's Waterway of Exile, Death, and Destiny

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sep 1, 2007 - Travel - 230 pages
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One of today's most intrepid writers chronicles a deadly trek through the legendary region that gave birth to the gulag and gave Siberia its outsize reputation for perilous isolation.

In a custom-built boat, Jeffrey Tayler travels some 2,400 miles down the Lena River from near Lake Baikal to high above the Arctic Circle, recreating a journey first made by Cossack forces more than three hundred years ago. He is searching for primeval beauty and a respite from the corruption, violence, and self-destructive urges that typify modern Russian culture, but instead he finds the roots of that culture—in Cossack villages unchanged for centuries, in Soviet outposts full of listless drunks, in stark ruins of the gulag, and in grand forests hundreds of miles from the nearest hamlet.

That’s how far Tayler is from help when he realizes that his guide, Vadim, a burly Soviet army veteran embittered by his experiences in Afghanistan, detests all humanity, including Tayler. Yet he needs Vadim’s superb skills if he is to survive a voyage that quickly turns hellish. They must navigate roiling whitewater in howling storms, but they eschew life jackets because, as Vadim explains, the frigid water would kill them before they could swim to shore. Though Tayler has trekked by camel through the Sahara and canoed down the Congo during the revolt against Mobutu, he has never felt so threatened as he does now.
 

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River of no reprieve: descending Siberia's waterway of exile, death, and destiny

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Siberia today comprises many small, poor villages that grew out of the trade routes and exile and resettlement policies of various Soviet regimes. Tayler (Angry Wind;Siberian Dawn), who has lived ... Read full review

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Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
14
Section 3
22
Section 4
32
Section 5
43
Section 6
58
Section 7
69
Section 8
76
Section 12
111
Section 13
132
Section 14
140
Section 15
156
Section 16
171
Section 17
180
Section 18
198
Section 19
215

Section 9
88
Section 10
97
Section 11
104
Section 20
223
Section 21
231
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

JEFFREY TAYLER is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and a contributor to Condé Nast Traveler, Harper's Magazine, and National Geographic. He is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including Facing the Congo, Angry Wind, and River of No Reprieve.

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