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There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. He tells about his adventures, miseries and mishaps in a matter-of-fact way, as if this is a normal way to camp out in Siberia with just the inadequate freezing weather comforts of the day. How Kennan and his crew lived through this, I can't imagine. It's not just about struggles, it's also a fascinating look at the nomadic Siberian peoples they met in their two years in Siberia.
The joint venture of laying a Russo-American Telegraph line across this land never happened, but this adventure was a superb outcome for the reader. One person found this helpful. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Tent Life in Siberia is a fine travelogue that can hold its own against those of his contemporary, Mark Twain, or fine modern travel writers like Michael Palin. Kennan records his adventures in the bitter cold of Siberia as a representative of an American company building a telegraph line.
Modern sensibilities can hardly believe the way he and the Siberian natives with whom he works not only endure but thrive in a horribly inhospitable climate. This was a fascinating and surprisingly humorous memoir by George Kennan who spent a couple of years in Northeast Siberia checking out the land and people in Siberia in preparation for a trans Siberian telegraph line that would connect America with Europe.
This was in or thereabouts. But this book wasn't about telegraphs it is about the nomadic and settled people who lived in this remarkably harsh land years ago. He spent quite a bit of time traveling with nomadic reindeer herding peoples, he traveled about in dog sleds, and describes, in an often hilarious manner, the pathetic lifestyles of the nomadic people who ended up settling in villages because at one point, regrettably, their reindeer died.
Physically I have some complaints about the book - the font was sort of difficult to read - I think this edition was copied directly from an archaic text. Maybe that adds to the feel of the book - like your reading a hundred year old text. The binding was very tight and I had to wrestle the book open every time I turned a page. But in spite of that I would call this a classic of ravel literature. And the author was very funny, nearly the entire book is humorous. This is a true narrative, written by George Kennan, a very accomplished journalist, in , who completed what I would consider, an impossible task!
George Kennan was chosen to lead a group of surveyers whose job it was to survey the Siberian Wilderness in order for Western Union to create a telegraph line across Alaska, the Bering Strait,and Siberia. This telegraph line was to be an important link with European Russia. It's difficult to imagine being exposed to such harsh elements, and not getting very sick or dying! George Kennan and most of his group had happy, adventurous, dispositions, under unbelieveable circumstances, and survived to tell about it!
They traveled for two years, through snow storms, white-outs, drenching rain and fierce blizzards, sometimes without even a tent. They met many nomads, escaped bear attacks, and practically starved to death. They walked for days in soaking wet clothing, and suffered so many hardships! I loved this book and could not put it down!
It was a great adventure story.
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I don't know how people survive such harsh conditions. As I'm reading true stories, I like to follow along by looking at a map. The Russian words were a little difficult to reconcile with today's Google map, but it was close enough. I admired him for his courage. A great travel adventure about life in Siberia circa including detailed accounts of the people, weather, geography, flora and fauna of the eastern Siberia. I am looking forward to reading 'Dersu the Trapper' by V.
This book was recommended to me while I was on the Masai Mara and as I thought the person doing the recommendation was great, I figured the book would be too. So I ordered and I was in for a treat. I suggest that you get out your atlas and follow the trail of these incredibly brave and determined men. The routes they had to take are very convoluted and you need a map to follow the story. I am a birdwatcher and was thrilled with the description of the Kamtchatka this is how Kennan spells it Peninsula and was delighted they got there after a rough voyage across the Pacific Ocean.
The most amazing thing about the book is that in the great mass of almost absolutely nothing they would come to a small town where there were stoves, rugs and down comforters plus dances, dinner and teas. It is a wonderful description of life in a time and place that most of us know nothing about. Describes an amazing three years in Siberia. Vivid description of winter travel and summer doldrums. Very well written and hard to put down. See all 29 reviews. Most recent customer reviews. Published 6 days ago. Published 17 days ago. Published 11 months ago. Published 1 year ago.
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Return to Book Page. Tent Life in Siberia: With biting humor and poignant insight, Kennan details his years fighting to survive a doomed mission.
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He depicts the quiet loneliness of the desolate landscape, the eerie glow of the sun at midnight, and the refusal to give in to one of the harshest places man has ever tried to conquer. Paperback , pages. Published March 17th by Skyhorse Publishing first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Tent Life in Siberia , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Another delight for the parsimonious, a great out-of-copyright ebook hidden in plain sight on the Internet, specifically, at Project Gutenberg , Manybooks.
A long time ago in the pre-Internet age I wrote this title down in an old-school paper notebook I kept for the same reason I am on Goodreads today: I thought at the time that it seemed unlikely I would ever be once again close enough to a univ Another delight for the parsimonious, a great out-of-copyright ebook hidden in plain sight on the Internet, specifically, at Project Gutenberg , Manybooks. I thought at the time that it seemed unlikely I would ever be once again close enough to a university library.
For example, you might be happily reading along and suddenly come upon this placeholder: OK, I made up the part about the bear above, but still there really are places where illustrations are referred to but not actually present, to the detriment of one's reading experience.
But the book is still a great pleasure. It has elements of both Jack London and Jerome K. I can't quite decide if it reads like Jack London with a better sense of humor, or Jerome K. Jerome in an atypically adventurous mood. To decide for yourself, see the excerpts that some public spirited soul has extracted and published on Goodreads. They are well worth the detour. My favorite passage was not included in the above, so I transcribe it here, fairly confident it will be the funniest thing you will read today: Members of the Korak, an indigenous Siberian group, live in yurts which can be entered or exited solely by a hole in the chimney] When the snow drifts up against the yurt , so as to give the dogs access to the chimney, they take a perfect delight in lying around the hole, peering down into the yurt , and snuffling the odours of boiling fish which rise from the huge kettle underneath.
Not unfrequently they get into a grand comprehensive free fight for the best place of observation, and just as you are about to take your dinner of boiled salmon off the fire, down comes a struggling, yelping dog into the kettle, while his triumphant antagonist looks down the chimney hole with the complacency of gratified vengeance upon his unfortunate victim.
A Korak takes the half-scalded dog by the back of the neck, pitches him over the edge of the yurt into a snow-drift, and returns with unruffled serenity to eat the fish-soup which has thus been irregularly flavoured with dog and thickened with hairs. There are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments in the book, and also some moments of genuine suspense, as when the hero and his party try to track down some members of their expedition across the frozen tundra.
There are occasional moments when the narrative lags a bit, but hang in there and another funny bit, like the city bus, will be along in a few minutes. There are some drawbacks to living in this age, but it is a fine thing to have a great book like this available for free, and not gathering dust in some corner of Mugar Library.
Aug 24, Sara rated it it was amazing. This is an amazing account of "extreme travel" on the Kamachatka peninsula and thereabouts in written by George Kennan Sr. He and his colleagues were employed by the Russo-American Telegraph Company to scout out a feasible route for an overland telegraph line to connect the US with Europe. It is hard to exaggerate how cut off these men were from the rest of the world and how much hardship and privation they endure This is an amazing account of "extreme travel" on the Kamachatka peninsula and thereabouts in written by George Kennan Sr.
It is hard to exaggerate how cut off these men were from the rest of the world and how much hardship and privation they endured. When the overland telegraph project was halted in the year that an Atlantic cable had been successfully laid , for example, Kennan and his comrades first learned of this fact by reading a newspaper that had reached them after a delay of many months. An engaging and funny narrator, he tells of landscapes, climates, and native peoples in a story that borders on the fantastic — but isn't.
I especially enjoyed his accounts of northeastern Siberia's nomadic natives and of the enormous cultural gulf that separated Kennan's modern American world and worldview from theirs. Other highlights include his descriptions of nature and natural phenomena e. Unfortunately, this reprint edition was made on the cheap and lacks the illustrations that Kennan himself had included in an earlier reprint. More serious and quite aggravating is the absence of a map -- an absolute necessity to understand where they were and what they were doing -- although some help can be had from Google satellite maps.
Feb 03, Michelle rated it really liked it Shelves: About 3 chapters into this book, I began planning my trip to Kamchatka. Kennan's description of the coast, the mountain ranges, the villages seated at the base of active volcanos, the wild rivers, and the tundra were so intoxicating that I felt I had to see them with my own eyes.
Tent Life in Siberia: An Incredible Account of Siberian Adventure, Travel, and Survival
I gave up the idea of the trip as a pipe dream, and that right there sums up the difference between Kennan and me. Kennan got on a whaling boat with a crew whose language he could not speak, not knowing exactly where in Kamchatka it was going to land, what the country would look like when he got there, what the weather would be like, whether the people would be friendly, or how in the world he was going to get around.
And then he proceeded to spend the next three years chasing around the country, trying not to freeze or starve to death, all the while apparently making insightful entries in his diary which he would later turn into this book. The story itself is intriguing and exciting, and relatively enlightened about presenting the native tribes he encounters. But oh, how I wish the book had a map. A pre-Soviet map with place names that matched the ones used in the book. Feb 06, Delia rated it really liked it.
This book is about a expedition to Siberia in s by employees of an American telegraph company. It is one of the most engaging travel logs, I have read. Forget eat, pray, love - read this. His prose is current and readable. It seems like he is writing today and not during the civil war until the self-aggrandizing passages desribing the "heathen" the native communities who keep him alive. The saving grace is that he keeps this theorizing to a minimum. This book is the single most well written travelogue I have encountered, which means of course that it was written over years ago when people knew how to write, for an audience that would only ever see what the author has seen through his own words.
Mark Twain called George Kennan the funniest writer of his time. George was more than funny.
He was dead accurate, thorough, sensitive and respectful to the Siberian cultures through which he traveled on a surveying mission. His description on how This book is the single most well written travelogue I have encountered, which means of course that it was written over years ago when people knew how to write, for an audience that would only ever see what the author has seen through his own words.
His description on how Siberian yurts are entered and exited, and the effect that that simple act had on Siberian cuisine, is one of the funniest things I've ever read.
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Jan 02, Joshua rated it liked it. Fun but a little confusing due to lack of a map and place-names that have since changed or been lost to the intervening years. Feb 25, Ken rated it really liked it. Tent Life in Siberia is the story of an expedition to map out the route for a telegraph line across Siberia, connecting America with Europe. The story is told by George Kennon, who with three other Western Union employees, is assigned this seemingly impossible task. Kennon is eloquent in his descriptions of the vast uncharted wi Tent Life in Siberia is the story of an expedition to map out the route for a telegraph line across Siberia, connecting America with Europe.
Kennon is eloquent in his descriptions of the vast uncharted wilderness and the deadly cold the party faces over the two-year span of the mission. Although the effort was ultimately canceled due to the laying of the first transatlantic cable, the story is full of near-death experiences, mutinous crews and heroic rescues. If you can find a map of Eastern Russia, it is fun to follow the journey across thousands of miles of trackless tundra.
This is a good, old-fashioned real-life adventure story, best read by a roaring fire. Aug 10, Adair rated it really liked it. Although some of the viewpoints in this book are dated white man meets indigenous populations late s , the writing is amazing. Kennan clearly has a good sense of humor - you'd have to to spend the better part of the winter traversing Siberia by dog sled and living in a tent!
Who knew that, after the end of the Civil War, an attempt was made by a U. A fascinating, well-written account of the author's participation in the expedition. May 05, Eileen rated it it was amazing. This true story describes people, cultures, and places as they were about years ago. Friendly writing style; the author has you laughing with him at his misadventures. Nov 07, Peter Tillman rated it really liked it Shelves: Read many years a go, I think at Larry McMurtry's recommendation.
Recommended for history and travel-writing fans. Kennan was a good writer, and some of his adventures were hair-raising. If I come across my hand-written journal notes, I'll post an update. Nov 09, Richard Wise rated it liked it Shelves: Reading this interesting story mainly as research for my own current book project and to get a sense of what it was like to travel in extreme winter conditions in the 19th century prior to the invention of Snow mobiles and other such abortions. Quite an interesting story. Oct 27, Welles Bristol rated it it was amazing Shelves: One of a kind true account that will keep you laughing or smiling the whole time.
Jun 24, Joel rated it really liked it Shelves: An account by Kennan of traveling through some of the far Eastern reaches of Siberia in the s. Many travel narratives by Western writers of the 19th century, writing about some of the far-flung and little-known areas of the world, can be quite dry and dull; at their worst, some of them come across as having a very condescending sense of the superiority of their own culture. Kennan is hardly among the worst offenders, but does have some of that condescension in his writing.
What sets his narr An account by Kennan of traveling through some of the far Eastern reaches of Siberia in the s. What sets his narrative apart, however, is his genuine- often self-deprecatory- sense of humor about the hardships he goes through in his travels. Take, for example, his comments about the sea voyage through the North Pacific, which brings him to Siberia: Burton is a humbug, Tennyson a fraud, I'm a victim, and Byron and Procter are accessories before the fact.
Never again will I pin my faith to poets. They may tell the truth nearly enough for poetical consistency, but their judgment is hopelessly perverted, and their imagination is too luxuriantly vivid for a truthful realistic delineation of sea life. A man who has just been pitched over a skylight by one of the ship's eccentric movements, or drenched to the skin by a burst of spray, is not in a state of mind to contemplate sublimity; and after going through a varied and exhaustive course of such treatment, any romantic notions which he may previously have entertained with regard to the ocean's beauty and sublimity are pretty much knocked and drowned out of him.
While we were drinking tea a special messenger arrived from the village, bringing two frozen blueberry pies as a parting token of regard from the Major, and a last souvenir of civilisation. Pretending to fear that something might happen to these delicacies if we should attempt to carry them with us, Dodd, as a precautionary measure, ate one of them up to the last blueberry; and rather than have him sacrifice himself to a mistaken idea of duty by trying to eat the other, I attended to its preservation myself and put it for ever beyond the reach of accidental contingencies. Sep 04, Rex Fuller rated it really liked it.
So, go the other way around. The Russian American Telegraph Company was formed and with Russian concessions in hand, its employees set sail from San Francisco on July 3, , to identify possible routes, sites for warehouses, suitable mountain passes, possible opposition or assistance from local people, etc. Forty days of sea-sickness later, Kennan and his party landed on the Kamchatka Peninsula near the Anadyr River.
Then they traveled throughout the peninsula and Siberia for two years. The story he tells of original encounters with various tribes—Koraks, Kamchatdals, Chookchees, Yookaghirs, Chooances, Yakoots and Gakouts—and with the land and the elements is fascinating. You would expect survival for weeks at temperatures of at least 40 below to provide plenty of details on just how you do that and of facing the consequences of not doing it.
But there is much more. His prose on the Northern Lights imagines scenes of operatic intensity. And he relates comic incidents with innocent delight, such as when he showed a local tribesman his telescope and watched as the man, believing the device physically delivered his neighbor up close, repeatedly reached out to touch him. But this is one of those stories you just have to read to believe that it really did happen. It takes you to another time in another world entirely. Jul 15, Pop Bop rated it really liked it Shelves: An Informative, Engaging and Entertaining Find Apart from recognized classics that you can find among public domain Kindle freebies, "Moby Dick", "Heart of Darkness", and so on , the search for treats can be a bit daunting.
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