Half of Baikal: Sacred Sea of Siberia
is taken up by photographs, mostly
of landscapes; these illustrate an essay by Peter Matthiessen expanded
from a New York Review of Books article. This offers the perspective of
a traveller based on one ten day visit, supplemented by short excerpts
from other writers on Baikal, mostly other Western travellers, and an
introduction by Yevgeny Yevtushenko with a Siberian perspective.
This is shallow, spending a lot of time on details of Matthiessen's
journey and only touching on Baikal's ecology, history, people, and
environmental problems. It is easy to read, however, and accessible
to readers with no background knowledge of Baikal or Siberia — though
it's likely to leave them wanting more.
Note: Peter Thomson's 2007 book Sacred Sea: a Journey to Lake Baikal
looks like a longer treatment in a similar vein.
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