Russian Lapland is rarely heard of today but after World War I it was briefly at the centre of the ideological divide as the Bolsheviks brought land clearances, slave labour and the suppression of the indigenous Lapps. Travelling across tundra and taiga, through wetlands and forests, and in all seasons, Roger Took found a pristine wilderness full ...
Russian Lapland is rarely heard of today but after World War I it was briefly at the centre of the ideological divide as the Bolsheviks brought land clearances, slave labour and the suppression of the indigenous Lapps. Travelling across tundra and taiga, through wetlands and forests, and in all seasons, Roger Took found a pristine wilderness full of wildlife. He lived among Saami families struggling to retain their traditions of herding and hunting, and was welcomed by pioneer villagers descended from medieval fur-traders. He describes life in the wild and isolated Soviet mining towns and the great industrial Arctic port of Murmansk, and also how he managed to uncover some of the secret lost areas, long closed to Russians and foreigners alike. As nuclear submarines rot and old industries crumble, he observes how new Russian biznes is creating wealth in its own way. The result is a series of encounters, some emotional but historically rich, some comical but dangerous, others absurd but endearing.Moving between the lines of the official histories, coping with arduous Arctic conditions, avoiding the still-vigilant security services, Roger Took presents a vivid account of a unique part of Europe.
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-10-20 Wanting to explore Europe's last wilderness, Took, an art historian and museum curator, made numerous trips during the 1990s to the far northwest corner of the Russian Federation and evocatively recounts his journey. Traveling alone, he camped, stayed in deplorable hotels and lived with the few people in Russian Lapland who would invite a stranger into their homes. First he went to the interior to find the Saami, the indigenous people who have herded reindeer for thousands of years in a region that is still rich with wildlife. Then, ignoring warnings that the area was too dangerous, he went to the northern coast, a restricted military zone. Although he was not always successful at evading the patrols and border guards, he managed to see some of the decaying nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear reactors that are rotting along the grim coast of the Barents Sea. He also visited Monchegorsk, home to nickel-processing plants that have polluted thousands of square kilometers as far away as Finland, Sweden and Norway, and went on an expedition with an organization doing research on Soviet forced labor camps. His wide-ranging book encompasses thousands of years of Russian Lapland's history, from the time when the Saami lived in harmony with nature to today, when a region whose traditional ways were devastated by Soviet collectivism is now succumbing to the economic problems that beset modern Russia. This is a fascinating, albeit bleak, portrait of a largely unknown part of the world. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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