Although the availability of information about Siberia is gradually improving, researching a region so large and culturally rich presents challenges. I found myself resorting to a range of resources in Russian, English, German and French to gather information for this book. Some of these resources are academic works I reinterpreted (for example, using research by anthropologists to convey a feeling for a people or landscape). In such cases, the interpretations are my own, as are any errors of interpretation. Other sources were more straightforward: local Russian newspaper or magazine articles, official websites of regions, towns and organizations, or even material gleaned from reliable and knowledgeable tour operators who regularly take visitors around the sights or regions.
Mostly, however, I have relied on a range of travel descriptions in order to give an insight into Siberia’s changing people, culture and landscape. Again, the choice is eclectic and subjective. Passages were chosen to give a flavour of Siberia, its people and landscape, and I hope this whets the reader’s appetite to pick up one or the other original description and read more. Finally, I hope this book will foster a better understanding of Siberia—among armchair travellers and ground travellers seeking a passage into Siberia and all it offers.
The books I consulted most frequently were James Forsyth, A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia’s North Asian Colony 1581-1990 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)—an invaluable work that I often drew on for background on contact between indigenes and European Russians; Igor V. Naumov (editor David N. Collins), The History of Siberia (London: Routledge, 2006)—a good general source for background on Siberia; E. Akbalian, V. Golubchikova, Z. Khvtisiashvili, Practical Dictionary of Siberia and the North(Moscow: European Publications, 2005); The Peoples of Siberia, ed. M. G. Levin & L. P. Popatov (Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 1964); Between Heaven and Hell: The Myth of Siberia in Russian Culture, eds. Galya Diment and Yuri Slezkine (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993). Chapters by Yuri Slezkine, Galya Diment and Harriet Murav were invaluable resources. For the Altai understanding of space in the Altai chapter I am indebted to the ideas and