No railway journey on Earth can equal the Trans-Siberian between Moscow and Vladivostok. It is not just its vast length and the great variety of the lands and climes through which it passes. It is not just its history as the line that linked the huge territories which are Russia together. It is a dream which calls countless travellers to the adventure of the longest railway in the world.
From the birth aboard of Rudolf Nureyev to the childhood obsession with the railway of Lesley Blanch, to the weariness that eventually overcame Paul Theroux, to the excitement of the author’s own journey, this revised and updated collection of travellers’ accounts brings together emotions, descriptions and humour from a century of travel.
This new edition of a classic anthology takes us through the tremendous achievement of the railway’s construction across harsh, unsettled lands through the earliest journeys of Western travellers and the trains on which they travelled, and their descriptions of fellow travellers, food, scenery, domestic arrangements, adventures on and off the train, convicts, revolution and war as the train carried them through a lonely, lovely landscape. The barrier of Lake Baikal was crossed by a British-built ice-breaker, put together on the lakeside, until the link around the deep water and through the first tunnels of the route, was completed. The railway played—and still plays—a huge part in holding this vast country together.
The necessary preparations and each section of the journey are described by travellers as famed as Sir Brian Horrocks, Peter Fleming, Noel Barber, Laurens van der Post, Eric Newby, Bob Geldof and many others, now less known. Their accounts are drawn together from a treasury of long out-of-print books so past journeys can bring today’s travellers a vast kaleidoscope of experience of a great journey to be enjoyed as you travel along the line—or simply contemplate the adventure.
Deborah Manley has travelled all her life, living in India, Australia, Canada—which she has crossed three times by train—Nigeria and Cameroon. She travelled across Russia on the Trans-Siberian journey and realized it had a wonderful story to tell—a story told in this anthology.