Baikal: Sacred Sea of Siberia

Peter Matthiessen

illustrated by Boyd Norton
Thames and Hudson 1992
A book review by Danny Yee © 2008
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.

May 2008

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%T Baikal
%S Sacred Sea of Siberia
%A Matthiessen, Peter
%Q Norton, Boyd
%I Thames and Hudson
%D 1992
%O hardcover, colour photographs
%G ISBN 050024135X
%P 90pp