The Shaman's Coat: A Native History of Siberia

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9780297643777: The Shaman's Coat: A Native History of Siberia

Steeped in history, ethnography and reportage, THE SHAMAN'S COAT tells the story of the indigenous people of Siberia. This vast expanse of land, much of it barely populated jungle and forest, has a population of just one million. Medieval Russians thought the people who lived amidst these unnerving wastes froze to the ground in winter, spent the summers at sea lest their skins split, and had mouths on top of their heads, eating by placing their hats and shrugging their shoulders. One of the world's great unexplored peoples, they have a colonial history as shocking as that of the American Indians or the Aboriginies, and live in some of the world's harshest conditions. Until the 1950s they had no written language; the little we know about them is gleaned from outsiders' accounts. Split between 30 different nationalities including the Buryats, Tatars, Inuits, and Chukchi, Siberians had a special closeness to the land. They believed nature possesses animating spirits to be worshipped, placated or guarded against and Shamans performed appropriate ceremonies. There has been an extraordinary revival in shamanism, with many communities again carrying out dog sacrifices, imbibing hallucinogenic drugs, corpses of bears being offered food to bring good luck. Siberians are also realising how rich the land in which they live is and have embarked on a dangerous battle with Russia, not paying taxes and refusing them access to their precious minerals. This is a story rich in romance, magic, tragedy, and a fascinating neglected piece of history.

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About the Author:

Anna Reid has a master's degree in Russian History and reform economics from London University's School of Slavonic and East European Studies. She was the Kiev correspondent for THE ECONOMIST and the DAILY TELEGRAPH from 1993 to 1995.

Review:

We had a fantastic launch party for Anna Reid on 25th April at The House of St. Barnabus. Lots of guests came including Benedict Allen, Marcel Theroux, Matthew Parris, John O'Farrell and Louise Doughty and the highlight of the evening must have been the traditional Tuvan throat singers! I also sold 40 books. I am currently fixing up a Monday night lecture at the RGS for Anna, for their Autumn series of talks. An article on Siberia by Anna Reid ran in the Financial Times on 30th March. Anna has been interviewed on the Brian Hayes Show (BBC Radio 5 Live), Gary Robertson Show (BBC Radio Scotland), Robert Elms Show (BBC London), the Afternoon Show (BBC Radio Jersey), John King Show (BBC Radio Shropshire) and John Turner Show (BBC Radio Bristol)Anna also gave a great talk at the Hermitage Rooms (Somerset House) on 13th May. Anna has done anumber of informal stock signings, including: Waterstones Piccadilly, Books Etc Piccadilly, Hatchards, Stanfords, Blackwells Charing Cross Rd, Borders Charing Cross Rd, Waterstones Notting Hill and Books Etc, Bayswater. 'Like Thubron, Ann Reid is a skilled verbal landscape artist, more economical with her imagery, but patiently investigative and enterprising too...The oral history she chronicles is deeply moving.'Alan Palmer, Literary Review '... quirky andnicely researched history.'Justin Marozzi, The Sunday Telegraph '...it is anenlightening study of indigenous peoples and post-Soviet geopolitics, full of unexpected insights; such as the details of the Khant language, 80per cent of which is verbs. Reid's style is wry...It is no small achievement to make the reader want to see this eerie landscape for themselves.'SB Kelly, Scotland on Sunday 'Reid's description of her travels is lively and full of little details that immediately convey the situation.'Eleanor Peers, Independent on Sunday 'Reid tells their fascinating history in beautiful detail in this part-history,part travel-book, centring her narrative on the Siberian shamanism that is struggling to re-emerge and find cures for the various ills of the modern world.'Malika Browne, Times '...a frank and lively account of Reid's travels through contemporary and historical Siberia in search of its indigenes...This is a fascinating book, pacy, thoughtful and erudite, and as good in its own way as Colin Thubron's In Siberia...'Sam Phipps, Spectator 'Reid travels with sensitivity through the grim past and drab present of Siberia's aboriginals, enlivening what is essentially more a history of the region than a journey through it with some strikingly painterly writing and an eye for pleasing eccentric detail...'James Owen, Telegraph '...a history of Siberia's different peoples and a personal recollection of travels among them...'The Scotsman '...a fascinating and compelling history of Siberia's native people, telling of their tortured past and their attempts to reassert themselves since the fall of Communism.'Wanderlust 'Thoroughly researched and often powerfully described, TheShaman's Coat is a sobering portrait of Siberia's struggling and skill scattered human presence.'Philip Marsden, TLS 'Part history, part witty travelogue, The Shaman's Coat captures the unexpected diversity of the peoples lumped together in the Russian psyche as slit-eyed savages...Anna Reid is a first rate

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