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Black Earth a Journey Through Russia After The Fall Meier Andrew 0007113242

But when many other journalists had taken leave of this vexed and beguiling land, believing it drained of stories, Meier returned, covering Russia and the former Soviet states as a Moscow correspondent for Time magazine from to In all, Meier reported from the lands of the former Soviet Union longer than almost any other Western journalist.

Inspired by both Russophile American writers like Edmund Wilson and native geniuses like Anton Pavlovich Chekhov-both of whom had attempted to penetrate Russia s veils of secrecy and lore- Meier journeyed to the five corners of this resurgent and reputedly free land: newly rich Moscow, war-torn Chechnya, arctic Norilsk, haunted Sakhalin, and proudly crumbling St.

Such a wide lens makes "Black Earth" perhaps the most insightful book on post-Soviet Russia written to date, one that captures its present limbo-a land rich in potential, yet its people ever fearful of staggering back into repression and tyranny. Meier's journalistic skills come to the fore as he descends into the ugly depths of Moscow's corrupt and often lethal political scene.

In his harrowing Chechnya chapter, he navigates with compassion and courage among kidnappers, Wahhabi Islamists aligned with the Taliban, exploding artillery shells, and the chief body counter of the Russian army to investigate the worst single-day civilian massacre in modern Russian history In Norilsk, the children of the Gulag reveal Russia's cultural and economic disenfranchisement from the rest of Europe. On the island of Sakhalin, Meier follows Chekhov's famous footsteps to the site of a feared tsarist penal colony now sitting on a massive petroleum reservoir.

Meier focuses in harrowing detail on a massacre in the village of Aldy on February 5, , when Russian soldiers murdered 60 civilians, and then tracks the failure to punish the killers despite ample evidence.

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Though many observers—not least the U. Vivid prose snapshots of Russians are the greatest strength of Black Earth.

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Where Meier falls down is in his attempt to answer the plaintive question about a nation without a conscience. Into the vacuum stepped corrupt politicians, criminals, would-be oligarchs, foreign carpetbaggers, and homegrown hucksters. Why were they able to ride roughshod over a people liberated at last from totalitarianism?

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This circular reasoning—Russia is adrift because it lacks accountability, and it lacks accountability because it is adrift—might appeal to a people with such a strong fatalistic streak. But it does little to explain when and how Russians may finally be delivered from their suffering. View the discussion thread. Skip to main content.

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