For almost three years, as Moscow Correspondent for CBS News, Richard Threlkeld was a close observer of the scene inside Russia and many of its old Soviet allies. This broad canvas of a book is his engaging memoir of life in the remains of the former Soviet Empire during the waning years of Boris Yeltsin's regime. Through colorful vignettes the reader is taken from the crime-ridden Wild, Wild East of Siberia to the glitzy casino world of the new Russian rich in Moscow. Along the way we visit the mountain people of Azerbaijan, some of whom at age 120 are still alive and well, and native Arctic tribes in the far North of Russia, who still live much as America's Sioux or Cheyenne did two centuries ago.
Equally fascinating are the characters who people the murky world of Kremlin politics. Dispatches goes behind the scenes to chronicle the decline of "Czar Boris" as well as the intrigues of Russia's new Rasputin, financier Boris Berezovsky and his ally, Yeltsin's ambitious and willful daughter Tatyana.
But the real heroes and heroines of this story are the ordinary Russians, long-suffering as always: The Kuzbass coalminers who line up for cold cuts in lieu of a paycheck; the rural schoolteacher who every day stoically instructs her shivering and hungry students; and the fellow in Zaraisk who took his son with him into the voting booth to show the boy "how this democracy idea works."
Threlkeld depicts a fascinating, sprawling land where the funny and the tragic are ever side by side. And as with everything in Russia, it is all larger than life.
About Richard Threlkeld
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Published November 1, 2000
by Prometheus Books.
History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Travel.