Driving Down Russia's Spine by Paul E. RichardsonDriving Down Russia's Spine by Paul E. Richardson

Driving Down Russia's Spine

byPaul E. Richardson

Paperback | July 1, 2016

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On one level, this book is the story of an epic 6000-kilometer road trip from the frigid shores of the Barents Sea to Sochi, Russia’s southernmost tip on the Black Sea. Dubbed "The Spine of Russia," the adventure tasked a mismatched duo of Russian and American journalists with capturing a view of Russia from the ground, to collect powerful images and honest human stories that offered a more subtle, complex picture of the world's largest country.

But this book is far more than just a travel essay. For it intertwines fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. It is a story told with humor and with the insight derived from the author’s three decades of intimate interactions with Russia. 

Among the many interesting stories in the book:

  • An expedition to “The Well to Hell”
  • A music school in one of the most polluted towns on earth
  • An energetic youth activist branded as a foreign agent
  • Russia’s largest manufacturer of barbells (who also makes cloudberry preserves)
  • A roadside berry seller recently paroled from prison
  • A blacksmith who is a Jehovah’s Witness
  • A bone-chilling trip to the foundation place of the Russian state
  • The slightly off-kilter leader of St. Petersburg’s Cossack community
  • A retired village doctor who can’t stop working, because he won’t be replaced
  • A piece of Nebraska transplanted into the middle of Russia’s Black Earth region

There were also craft beer makers, ballroom dancers, policemen, restaurant owners, an opera student, a priest, a single mother, an accessibility activist, teachers, docents, a best-selling author, soap makers, journalists, a sailor, a winemaker, and a woman taking on the male-dominated world of Russian hockey. And no trip to Russia would be complete without a run-in with security officials in leather jackets. So there is also that.

Taken together, the stories from this epic road trip create a compelling portrait of  Russia and its people. The book could not be more timely; recent events show how vital it is for Americans to continue working to understand Russia.

Title:Driving Down Russia's SpineFormat:PaperbackDimensions:330 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 0.74 inPublished:July 1, 2016Publisher:Russian Information Services, Inc.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1880100452

ISBN - 13:9781880100455

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Editorial Reviews

"Richardson... knows his Russian history and relies on it in presenting a unique perspective on this fascinating country. Encounters with colorful Russians of all stripes enliven his engaging read."- Ethan De Seife, Seven Days