Down the Volga: 2a Journey Through Mother Russia in a Time of Troubles

Marq de Villers, Author Viking Books $22 (336p) ISBN 978-0-670-84353-4
An air of melancholy, of wrenching wistfulness informs Toronto journalist de Villiers's account of his circuitous rambles on Matushka Volga , ``little Mother Volga which is Russia itself,'' during the summer of 1990. Although he has a knack for making certain unpleasant experiences seem like a lark, this is a serious-minded, probing, knowledgeable report on heartland Russia today, also on many yesterdays ago as the author relates tales going back to the Huns and Tartars, plus more recent history, to the Cossacks, the Revolution, WW II. Alternately traveling alone, with tourists on a Russian cruise ship, in the company of five Soviet journalists from Moscow--not an especially compatible crew--on a creaky vessel which looked like a decommissioned military craft, de Villiers was intrepid. The Russian-speaking journalist visited villages for which he had no visa and hung around factories, collective farms, the riverfront, the streets: chatting, questioning, listening. He discerned widespread nostalgia for a noble dream corrupted, then abandoned, and found racism and ethnic anger ``everywhere,'' pessimism ``everywhere.'' It was a dispiriting 3500 kilometers. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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