The Polish journalist whose "The Soccer War" and "The Emperor" are counted as classics of contemporary reportage now bears witness in "Imperium" to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. This magisterial book combines childhood memory with unblinking journalism, a radar for the truth with a keen appreciation of the absurd.
"Imperium" begins with Ryszard Kapuscinski's account of the Soviet occupation of his town in eastern Poland in 1939. It culminates fifty years later, with a forty-thousand-mile journey that takes him from the haunted corridors of the Kremlin to the abandoned "gulag" of Kolyma, from a miners' strike in the arctic circle to a panic-stricken bus ride through the war-torn Caucasus.
Out of passivity and paranoia, ethnic hatred and religious fanaticism that have riven two generations of Eastern Europeans, Kapuscinski has composed a symphony for a collapsing empire a work that translates history into the hopes and sufferings of the human beings condemned to live it.
About the Author
Ryszard Kapuscinski was born in eastern Poland in 1932. His earlier books, which include "Shah of Shahs," "The Emperor," and "The Soccer War," have been translated into nineteen languages. He died in January of 2007.
"Kapuscinski is a transcendental journalist. . . . He begins with appearances, for which he has uncommon gifts of poetry, irony and paradox, and clambers down them into essences. . . .He is writing about the whale from inside its belly."
—Los Angeles Times
"Kapuscinski is an enchanting guide, combining boundless stamina, felicitous writing, childish curiosity and the literate authority of a true intellectual. . . . There are treasures in this book. . . .It is a triumphant combination of bleak history and black comedy."
—The New York Times Book Review
"When our children's children want to study the cruelties of the late twentieth century . . . when they wonder why revolution after revolution betrayed its promises hrough greed, fear and confusion, they should read Ryszard Kapuscinski."
—Wall Street Journal
"A compelling and convincing narrative that examines the extensive damage done to entire nations, the human psyche and the physical environment....This is a devastating picture of Russia [that] penetrates deeply into the depressing truths of 70 years of Soviet rule, the borders, the fear, the inhumanity.... His portrait of the 'Imperium' is tragic, but ever so true."
—Professor Thomas R. Beyer, Jr., Middlebury College, The Boston Globe