Back Route My travel Tips Library Links

If you're planning to travel across Russia and Mongolia by train, without any agency or organization, it's necessary for you, or at least advisable, to gather as much information as you can. You can easily do it not only through the WWW, but also through the traditional systems (i.e.: books). In this page I've listed the books I think are the most interesting on the Trans- Siberian and Siberia in general, some of which I've tested myself; do exist many more publications on this subject in many languages but, unless you're going to write your graduation thesis about the Trans- Siberian, I'm sure that those I'm suggesting are more than enough. I've not listed only guidebooks, but also magazine articles and common books on traveling in Siberia which, maybe more than a guidebook, will help you to understand a little more, thanks to the skilled pen of a writer, the fascination of a country in the balance between east and west.

Guidebooks

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Lonely Planet Russia, Ukraine & Belarus -    It's a comprehensive guidebook of more than eight hundred pages which includes not only the Russian Federation but also Ukraine and Belarus. It has a significant section on the Trans- Siberian and all its towns, including even the northern Siberia. In my opinion it's the best existing resource which makes of it an excellent source of detailed and up-to-grade information (you can upgrade it  here as Acrobat reader file). You can buy it on Amazon.com or on Lonely Planet web site.

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Trans-siberian handbook - Trans-Siberian HandbookIt's said to be the bible of the Trans- Siberian traveler. Originally written by Bryn Thomas, this brand-new edition (2001) is revised by Athol Yates and published by Trailblazer. it's undoubtedly an essential travel companion; in spite of all, I must confess that I've found much more reliable the LP guidebook (but I had the old 1997 edition of the handbook). You can buy it on Amazon.com or on Trailblazer web site.

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Let's Go Eastern Europe - It's the Eastern Europe guidebook of the Let's Go series, published by Macmillan. it actually covers almost two dozens of countries, from Czech rep. to Estonia, but includes an interesting section on the Trans- Siberian. Not very in-depth (about this subject), but it's revised every year! It's a great additional to the others. You can buy it online at Let'go web site.

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Siberian BAM Guide - This guidebook is also published by Trailblazer and it's about the Baikal-Amur  Magistral, the second big Siberian railway. Written with the same philosophy of the Trans-Siberian handbook by the same author, Athol Yates, it's actually useful only if you're planning to take the BAM; consider that, anyway, in case of sudden change of course, the LP Russia, Ukraine & Belarus will be more than enough. You can buy it at Amazon.com and at Trailblazer web site.

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Lonely Planet Mongolia - It's practically the one and only good guidebook on Mongolia. Really helpful and detailed (you can also download upgrades qui as Acrobat reader file) but, I must say, not indispensable if you already have some addresses in Ulaanbaatar and if you already know what you want to visit in Mongolia; many of these info can be found on the web (see also the link page). You can buy it at Amazon.com or at Lonely Planet.

Readings

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Imperium - Ryszard Kapuscinski. "Kapuscinski is a transcendental journalist... He began with appearances, for wich he has uncommon gifts of poetry, irony and paradox, and clambers down them into essences... He is writing about the whale from inside its belly". (Los Angeles Times). Imperium  is more than a reportage, more than a biografy, more than a novel: Kapuscinsci strikes and sinks our conscience with a fabric of memories, testimonies, experiences and suffering that unrevels long an half century, from 1939 till 1992. His privileged point of view, as a former correspondent of the polish press agengy PAP, lets him  carry the pain his people suffered from the horror of the Stalin era. Published in many languages, the English edition can be purchased at Amazon.com; 

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Goodnight, mister Lenin - Tiziano Terzani. "In the August of the 1991 Terzani is along the Amur river, in Siberia, when he's reached by the news of the anti-Gorbacev coup d'eté, which just happened in Moscow. He decides to leave soon for a long journey that leads him to Asia, the Caucasus and Moscow, during two months across Siberia. It's an out-of-ordinary experience, frozen in the papers, in the feelings and in the pictures wich features this book: a live testimony of an historic event, a gallery of different people and populations, an overview of legendary towns, unknown places, traces of the past and pushing imagines of the new era..." (from the back cover). Even if it's now a little bit old it's still an excellent book to catch the atmosphere of a journey across Siberia. Published in many languages, the English edition can be purchased at Amazon.com; see here for the Italian edition.  Click here to read an excerpt in Italian!

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In Siberia - Colin Thubron. Terzani says: "The only way to discover the magik of travelling is to stop being tourist-consumers an get back to pilgrimage. Colin Thubron is a master in this way. He gets close to Siberia on tiptoe, with a religious couriosity and  compassion. The result is a respectful, overwhelming, exceptional narration on the dark heart of one of the largest and most forgotten parts of the world and humanity". It's not only a riveting travel story; to undertand a little better the mysteryous Russia, Thubron scratched off that coat of snow and oblivion, giving us back, over the time, the thousand faces of the Siberian soul. In English and Italian.   Click here to read an excerpt in Italian!

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La via della Cina - Renata Pisu. This is the story of a life lived between Italy, URSS and China.Published in Italy by Sperling&Kupfer, in Italian.

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Italiani con Valigia - Beppe Severgnini. It's an anthology of nice travel stories of a typical Italian abroad. Among the others, there's one about the Trans- Siberian. Published by Rizzoli, in Italian. You can read it online in Italian or in English!   

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Russia's iron road - Fen Montaigne. This is an article published the June 1998 issue of the National Geographic Magazine. It features great pictures from Moscow to Vladivostok, with a original comment in the typical style of NG. See here for the Italian edition.Click here to read the article!   

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Transiberiana, un viaggio nell'infinito - Marcella Borghi. One more article published in the March 1992 issue of "Vie del Mondo", the old official magazine of the Touring Club Italiano. A day by day travel diary from Moscow to Beijing, full of beautiful pictures. In Italian. Click here to read it!

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This is an article published by Panorama Travel on the April 2001 issue. It's a nice diary written on the train from Moscow to Vladivostock, with a big gallery of odd characters. In Italian.