A friend shared this blogsite with a few people and one of those, Tony Radbill, started a modest email exchange with me. Our discussion drifted to Siberia (I had hoped at one time to be able to teach there, just to get a look at that vast and mysterious area) and Tony replied with the below observations. I pass on those observations with his kind permission, and with my thanks to him.
We leave tomorrow afternoon, first to Salzburg for “training” which seems to include a Mozart concert and a strudel pull. Both of which no doubt will be vital once in Russia…. I will blog on occasion, assuming internet capability, from both Salburg and Russia.
Below are Tony’s remarks:
” The mention of Siberia provokes some thoughts from me. My interest in Russia was awakened not only by the fact that my late Father was born in Odessa and the family escaped the maws of the Bolshevik Revolution, but due to the fantastic books I have read on its history. Through America’s pre-eminence and the medium of Hollywood one is well aware of the myths, realities and epic settlement of the American West. Equally majestic; written with lots of blood and effort is Russia’s eastward expansion. In fact, the expansion from the relatively small Grand Duchy of Muscovy was to all points of the compass. Some of the books I have read that touched on this subject were: Ivan Le Terrible and Catherine La Grande by Henri Troyat; Peter The Great by Robert K. Massie; Potemkin by Sebag Montefiore; The Marquis de Custine And His Russia In 1839 by George F. Kennan and so many more books.
I think a perfect introduction for your son, perhaps in an abridged form if it exists, is Michel Strogoff by Jules Verne.. This adventure deals with a plot involving the Tartars and a renegade Russian to eject the Russians from Siberia and found a new empire. Heroically thwarted by an officer from the Tsar’s army. It is really gripping and will spark a young, bright mind.
With all the tumult in the Middle East the Russians have been making extra siren songs to invite Western investors to develop their Siberian resources. Ergo, your lectures there are so important to try to establish a reliable business legal framework for foreigners and the Russians themselves. The real irony for me is the long -term demographic challenge for the Russians in Siberia and elsewhere in their country. The Chinese are exercising a great commercial pull in Siberia and whether they have deep down accepted the loss of Siberian territory in the Manchu time to the Russians history will reveal before the end of this century.”