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Tent Life in Siberia

George Kennan

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ried without salt in the open air, are the food of the Kamchadals and of their dogs throughout the long, cold northern winter. During the summer, however, their bill of fare is more varied. The climate and soil of the river bottoms in southern Kamchatka admit of the cultivation of rye, potatoes, and turnips, and the whole peninsula abounds in animal life. Reindeer and black and brown bears roam everywhere over the mossy plains and through the grassy valleys; wild sheep and a species of ibex are not unfrequently found in the mountains; and millions upon millions of ducks, geese, and swans, in almost endless variety, swarm about every river and little marshy lake throughout the country. These aquatic fowls are captured in great multitudes while moulting by organised "drives" of fifty or seventy-five men in canoes, who chase the birds in one great flock up some narrow stream, at the end of which a huge net is arranged for their reception. They are then killed with clubs, cl. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Tent Life in Siberia is the story of an 1864 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. The narrative is lively a...more

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.

30 minutes of Goo...more

This is an amazing account of "extreme travel" on the Kamachatka peninsula and thereabouts in 1865-1867 written by George Kennan Sr. (a relative of the later George Kennan who was US Ambassador to Russia). He and his colleagues were employed by the Russo-American Telegraph Company to scout out a...more

This book is the single most well written travelogue I have encountered, which means of course that it was written over 100 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...more

Had to constantly remind myself that this REALLY happened and that it wasn't a fictional story. Fun but a little confusing due to lack of a map and place-names that have since changed or been lost to the intervening 130 years.

So interesting! This true story describes people, cultures, and places as they were about 150 years ago. Friendly writing style; the author has you laughing with him at his misadventures.

Although some of the viewpoints in this book are dated (white man meets indigenous populations late 1800s), 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. S. company to lay a telegraph line from Alaska through Siberia. A fascinating, well-written account of the author's participation in the expedition.

This book is about a expedition to Siberia in 1860s 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 t...more

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