The very word Siberia evokes a history and reputation as awesome as it is enthralling. In this acclaimed book on Russia’s conquest of its eastern realms, Benson Bobrick offers a story that is at once both rich and subtle, broad and deep.
From its conquest by Cossacks and its exploration and settlement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, through its terrifying Gulag era, to its modern place in a world hungry for natural resources, Siberia – covering a sixth of the world’s surface – is a land unlike any other. East of the Sun captures all of Siberia’s history with a depth and flavor that will satisfy both well-informed historians and newly-cast Russophiles alike.
“Magnificent detail!, meticulous research... Bobrick’s thoughtful and comprehensive book, with its focus on the region’s political, economic and diplomatic role in Russia’s destiny, will reward any reader.”
– The Wall Street Journal
As recounted by Bobrick, Russia's conquest of far-flung Siberia is a magnificent saga that rivals that of the settlement of the American West in its tragic drama. Lured by the prospect of a lucrative fur trade, small bands of Russians, convinced of their right to dispossess ``inferior'' peoples, subjugated Turkish and Mongol nomads, fueled intertribal warfare and destroyed native cultures through forced assimilation. Colonization sparked riots and populist uprisings in the 16th century. Modern times brought further disruption. The Trans-Siberian Railway, completed in 1901, enabled millions of peasants to migrate over the Urals. Under Lenin, shamans and other Siberian natives were annihilated. Stalin stepped up the collectivization of Siberian agriculture, causing famine and massacres. Possession of this resource-rich yet economically deprived region makes Russia today ``potentially the richest nation on earth,'' writes Bobrich, biographer of Ivan the Terrible. He fills his narrative with descriptions of reckless Cossacks, polygamous Aleuts, Buddhist Buryats, explorers, exiles and Gulag prisoners. Illustrations.