Into Siberia

Into Siberia by Gregory Wallance

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Into Siberia:

Yes, it’s as cold as you think.

Quick synopsis:

The story of George Kennan’s journey through Siberia to evaluate the exile system of Russia.

Fact for Non-History People:

The Bell of Uglich was exiled after it was used to summon a revolt. Yes, a literal bell.

Fact for History Nerds:

Most Russian exiles had to walk to their destinations in Siberia and their sentences didn’t start until they got there.

My Take on Into Siberia:

I don’t know what is harder to believe. That someone would voluntarily go spend months in Siberia or that the same person thought the Russian prisons in the area wouldn’t be that bad. George Kennan was that man, and, to his credit, he realized he was wildly naive.

Gregory Wallance tells the story of Kennan’s two trips to Siberia in his immensely entertaining Into Siberia. I knew nothing of Kennan before this book. Wallance does an amazing job of explaining Keenan and why he ended up in one of the most desolate places on Earth multiple times. Sure, I still think he was a little nuts, but I definitely enjoyed reading about his adventures. The book is on the shorter end for a history book, but it is part of the strength of the narrative. Wallance does not bury the important parts of Kennan’s life and travels in needless detail. Specifically, Wallance’s ability to convey the horrors of Keenan’s journey in minimal page count is a feat in and of itself. Nothing lingers too long and Wallance might even convince me to read Kennan’s Siberia and the Exile System.

Wait, Kennan’s book is over 1,000 pages. Just read this instead. You’ll love it.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press.)


A great read! Buy it here!

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