Tent Life in Siberia

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-07-15
  • Publisher: Dover Pubns

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In the 1860s, a Russian-American Telegraph Company sent a survey team to explore a proposed route for an overland telegraph line that would connect the United States and Europe by way of Siberia and across the Bering Strait. Although the expedition failed, it marked one of the first explorations of the Siberian wilderness, and George Kennan's colorful portrayal of the land and its inhabitants constitutes one of the most entertaining travelogues of all time.
Kennan's engaging narrative sparks a wanderlust for a bygone era, covering thousands of miles into a seldom-visited territory populated by nomads. Its highlights include a chronicle of seven weeks aboard a Russian ship, an awkward but hilarious encounter at a Cossack wedding, and beautiful descriptions of the celestial wonders of the north.

Author Biography

American explorer George Kennan (1845–1924) was renowned for his adventures in the Kamchatka and Caucasus regions of the Russian Empire. He wrote for the Associated Press and traveled the world as a war correspondent. Kennan also contributed to Century Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, McClure's Magazine, and The Outlook.

Table of Contents

Preface to Revised Edition
Chapter I: The Overland Telegraph Line to Russia—Sailing of the First Siberian Exploring Party from San Francisco
Chapter II: Crossing the North Pacific—Seven Weeks in a Russian Brig
Chapter III: The Picturesque Coast of Kamchatka—Arrival in Petropavlovsk
Chapter IV: Things Russian in Kamchatka—A Verdant and Flowery Land—The Village of Two Saints
Chapter V: First Attempt to Learn Russian—Plan of Exploration—Division of Party
Chapter VI: A Cossack Wedding—The Peninsula of Kamchatka
Chapter VII: Starting Northward—Kamchatkan Scenery, Villages, and People
Chapter VIII: Bridle Paths of Southern Kamchatka—Houses and Food of the People—Reindeer Tongues and Wild-Rose Petals—A Kamchatkan Driver’s Canticle
Chapter IX: The Beautiful Valley of Genal—Walls of Literature—Scaring Up a Bear—End of Horseback Ride
Chapter X: The Kamchatka River—Life on a Canoe Raft—Reception at Milkova—Mistaken for the Tsar
Chapter XI: Arrival at Kluchei—The Kluchefskoi Volcano—A Question of Route—A Russian “Black Bath”
Chapter XII: Canoe Travel on the Yolofka—Volcanic Conversation—“O Susanna!”—Talking “American”—A Difficult Ascent
Chapter XIII: A Dismal Night—Crossing the Kamchatkan Divide—Another Bear Hunt—Breakneck Riding—Tigil—Steppes of Northern Kamchatka
Chapter XIV: Okhotsk Seacoast—Lesnoi—The “Devil’s Pass”—Lost in Snow-Storm—Saved by Brass Box—Wild Scene
Chapter XV: Cut Off by Storm—Starvation Threatened—Race with a Rising Tide—Two Days without Food—Return to Lesnoi
Chapter XVI: Kamchatkan Nights’ Entertainments—Character of People—Salmon-Fishing—Sable-Trapping—Kamchadal Language—Native Music—Dog-Driving—Winter Dress
Chapter XVII: A Fresh Start—Crossing the Samanka Mountains—Descent on a Korak Encampment—Nomads and Their Tents—Door-Holes and Dogs—Pologs—Korak Bread
Chapter XVIII: Why the Koraks Wander—Their Independence—Cheerless Life—Uses of the Reindeer—Korak Ideas of Distance—“Monarch of the Brass-Handled Sword”
Chapter XIX: The Snow-Drift Compass—Marriage by Capture—An Intoxicating Fungus—Monotony of Korak Life
Chapter XX: The Korak Tongue—Religion of Terror—Incantations of Shamans—Killing of Old and Sick—Reindeer Superstition—Korak Character
Chapter XXI: First Frost-Bite—The Settled Koraks—Hour-Glass Yurts—Climbing down Chimneys—Yurt Interiors—Legs as Features—Travelling by “Pavoska”—Bad Character of Settled Koraks
Chapter XXII: First Attempt at Dog-Driving—Unpremeditated Profanity—A Runaway—Arrival at Gizhiga—Hospitality of the Ispravnik—Plans for the Winter
Chapter XXIII: Dog-Sledge Travel—Arctic Mirages—Camp at Night—A Howling Chorus—Northern Lights
Chapter XXIV: Dismal Shelter—Arrival of a Cossack Courier—Americans on the Anadyr—Arctic Firewood—A Siberian Blizzard—Lost on the Steppe
Chapter XXV: Penzhina—Posts for Elevated Road—Fifty-Three below Zero—Talked Out—Astronomical Lectures—Eating Planets—The House of a Priest
Chapter XXVI: Anadyrsk—An Arctic Outpost—Severe Climate—Christmas Services and Carols—A Siberian Ball—Music and Refreshments—Excited Dancing—Holiday Amusements
Chapter XXVII: News from the Anadyr Party—Plan for Its Relief—The Story of a Stove-Pipe—Start for the Seacoast
Chapter XXVIII: A Sledge Journey Eastward—Reaching Tide-Water—A Night Search for a Stove-Pipe—Finding Comrades—A Voice from a Stove—Story of the Anadyr Party
Chapter XXIX: Classification of Natives—Indian Type, Mongolian Type, and Turkish Type—Eastern View of Western Arts and Fashions—An American Saint
Chapter XXX: An Arctic Aurora—Orders from the Major—Adventures of Macrae and Arnold with the Chukchis—Return to Gizhiga—Review of Winter’s Work
Chapter XXXI: Last Work of the Winter—Birds and Flowers of Spring—Continuous Daylight—Social Life in Gizhiga—A Curious Sickness—Summer Days and Nights—News from America
Chapter XXXII: Dull Life—Arctic Mosquitoes—Waiting for Supplies—Ships Signalled—Bark Clara Bell—Russian Corvette Varag
Chapter XXXIII: Arrival of Bark Palmetto—Driven Ashore by Gale—Discharging Cargo under Difficulties—Negro Crew Mutinies—Lonely Trip to Anadyrsk—Stupid Koraks—Explosive Provisions
Chapter XXXIV: A Meeting in the Night—Hardships of Bush’s Party—Siberian Famines—Fish Savings Banks—Work in the Northern District—Starving Pole Cutters—A Journey to Yamsk
Chapter XXXV: Yurt on the Topolofka—The Valley of Tempests—River of the Lost—Storm Bound—Escape by the Ice-Foot—A Sleepless Night—Leet Reported Dead—Yamsk at Last
Chapter XXXVI: Bright Anticipations—A Whale-Ship Signalled—The Bark Sea Breeze—News from the Atlantic Cable—Reported Abandonment of the Overland Line
Chapter XXXVII: Official Confirmation of the Bad News—The Enterprise Abandoned—A Voyage to Okhotsk—The Aurora of the Sea
Chapter XXXVIII: Closing Up the Business—A Bargain Sale—Telegraph Teacups Reduced—Cheap Shovels for Grave Digging—Wire Fish Nets at a Sacrifice—Our Narrowest Escape—Blown Out to Sea—Saved by the Onward
Chapter XXXIX: Start for St. Petersburg—Route to Yakutsk—A Tunguse Encampment—Crossing the Stanavoi Mountains—Severe Cold—Fire-Lighted Smoke Pillars—Arrival in Yakutsk
Chapter XL: The Greatest Horse-Express Service in the World—Equipment for the Road—A Siberian “Send-Off”—Post Travel on the Ice—Broken Sleep—Driving into an Air-Hole—Repairing Damages—First Sight of Irkutsk
Chapter XLI: A Plunge into Civilisation—The Nobles’ Ball—Shocking Language—Shakespeare’s English—The Great Siberian Road—Passing Tea Caravans—Rapid Travel—Fifty-Seven Hundred Miles in Eleven Weeks—Arrival in St. Petersburg

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