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Black earth : a journey through Russia after the fall
Meier, Andrew.
Adult Nonfiction DK510.76 .M44 2003

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From Publishers' Weekly:

"How do you explain a state in decay?" the author of this engrossing, beautifully written book asks about a country where "the death of an ideology has displaced millions," a third of the households are poor, and epidemics of HIV, TB, suicide, drug abuse and alcoholism are rife. Meier, a Moscow correspondent for Time magazine from 1996 to 2001, attempted to answer the question by traveling to the four corners of Russia so he could report on the suffering of the people as they struggle to survive in the ruins of the Soviet experiment. He began in 2000 by going south to war-devastated Chechnya, particularly the town of Aldy, a district of Grozny, which earlier that year had endured the massacre of at least 60 of its citizens by Russian soldiers. He then traveled north, above the Arctic Circle, to the heavily polluted industrial city of Norilsk, originally a labor camp and now "a showcase for the ravages of unbridled capitalism," where descendants of the prisoners still mine for precious metals. Finally, he went west to St. Petersburg, "a den of thieves and compromised politicians" whose much-heralded revival is largely unrealized and where the people are still haunted by the assassination in 1998 of Galina Vasilievna Starovoitova, the country's leading liberal. After talking to scores of people-from survivors of the Aldy massacre to a harrowed Russian lieutenant colonel who runs the body-collection point closest to the Chechen battleground-Meier paints in this heartbreaking book a devastating picture of contemporary life in a country where, as one man put it, people have "lived like the lowest dogs for more than eighty years." Maps and photos not seen by PW. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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