Imperium by Ryszard Kapuściński
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Kapuscinski delivers in Imperium a near equal of his masterpieces (Another Day of Life, The Emperor, and Shah of Shahs). Describing this makes it seems like an awful mess stitched together from reportage on the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a memoir of the author’s own contact with the empire, travelogue and history of the various regions (writer Geoff Dyer points out the section on the history of the Armenian book as especially wonderful, and I agree.), and an indictment of Stalin’s ruthless, brutal, and surreal rule. The beauty of the writing pulls this together into a meditation on a collapsing empire and a changing of the world order with all the chaos and transformation that is involved. The rot, decay, and weirdness of collapse are what Kapusciski crafts his poetry from, and here he is frequently at his most poetic.
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