Travels with NPR host
David Greene along the Trans-Siberian Railroad capture an overlooked,
idiosyncratic Russia in the age of Putin
Far away from the trendy cafés, designer boutiques, and
political protests and crackdowns in Moscow, the real Russia exists.
Midnight in Siberia
chronicles David Greene’s journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a
six-thousand-mile cross-country trip from Moscow to the Pacific port of
Vladivostok. In quadruple-bunked cabins and stopover towns sprinkled across the
country’s snowy landscape, Greene speaks with ordinary Russians about how their
lives have changed in the post-Soviet years.
These travels offer a glimpse of the new Russia—a nation
that boasts open elections and newfound prosperity but continues to endure
oppression, corruption, a dwindling population, and stark inequality.
We follow Greene as he finds opportunity and hardship
embodied in his fellow train travelers and in conversations with residents of
towns throughout Siberia.
We meet Nadezhda, an entrepreneur who runs a small hotel in
Ishim, fighting through corrupt layers of bureaucracy every day. Greene spends
a joyous evening with a group of babushkas who made international headlines as
runners-up at the Eurovision singing competition. They sing Beatles covers,
alongside their traditional songs, finding that music and companionship can
heal wounds from the past. In Novosibirsk, Greene has tea with Alexei, who runs
the carpet company his mother began after the Soviet collapse and has mixed
feelings about a government in which his family has done quite well. And in
Chelyabinsk, a hunt for space debris after a meteorite landing leads Greene to
a young man orphaned as a teenager, forced into military service, and now
figuring out if any of his dreams are possible.
Midnight in Siberia
is a lively travel narrative filled with humor, adventure, and insight. It
opens a window onto that country’s complicated relationship with democracy and
offers a rare look into the soul of twenty-first-century Russia. Download and start listening now!