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Tent Life in Siberia   By: (1845-1924)

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[Illustration: George Kennan 1868]

Tent Life in Siberia

A New Account of an Old Undertaking

Adventures among the Koraks and Other Tribes In Kamchatka and Northern Asia


George Kennan

Author of "Siberia and the Exile System," "Campaigning in Cuba," "The Tragedy of Pelee," "Folk Tales of Napoleon"

With 32 Illustrations and Maps



This narrative of Siberian life and adventure was first given to the public in 1870 just forty years ago. Since that time it has never been out of print, and has never ceased to find readers; and the original plates have been sent to the press so many times that they are nearly worn out. This persistent and long continued demand for the book seems to indicate that it has some sort of perennial interest, and encourages me to hope that a revised, illustrated, and greatly enlarged edition of it will meet with a favourable reception.

Tent Life in Siberia was put to press for the first time while I was absent in Russia. I wrote the concluding chapters of it in St. Petersburg, and sent them to the publishers from there in the early part of 1870. I was then so anxious to get started for the mountains of the Caucasus that I cut the narrative as short as I possibly could, and omitted much that I should have put in if I had had time enough to work it into shape. The present edition contains more than fifteen thousand words of new matter, including "Our Narrowest Escape" and "The Aurora of the Sea," and it also describes, for the first time, the incidents and adventures of a winter journey overland from the Okhotsk Sea to the Volga River a straightaway sleigh ride of more than five thousand miles.

The illustrations of the present edition, which will, I hope, add greatly to its interest, are partly from paintings by George A. Frost, who was with me on both of my Siberian expeditions; and partly from photographs taken by Messrs. Jochelson and Bogoras, two Russian political exiles, who made the scientific investigations for the Jesup North Pacific Expedition on the Asiatic side of Bering Strait.

I desire gratefully to acknowledge my indebtedness to The Century Company for permission to use parts of two articles originally written for St. Nicholas ; to Mrs. A.D. Frost, of North Cambridge, Mass., for photographs of her late husband's paintings; and to the American Museum of Natural History for the right to reproduce the Siberian photographs of Messrs. Jochelson and Bogoras.



February 16, 1910.


The attempt which was made by the Western Union Telegraph Company, in 1865 66 and 67, to build an overland line to Europe via Alaska, Bering Strait, and Siberia, was in some respects the most remarkable undertaking of the nineteenth century. Bold in its conception, and important in the ends at which it aimed, it attracted at one time the attention of the whole civilised world, and was regarded as the greatest telegraphic enterprise which had ever engaged American capital. Like all unsuccessful ventures, however, in this progressive age, it has been speedily forgotten, and the brilliant success of the Atlantic cable has driven it entirely out of the public mind. Most readers are familiar with the principal facts in the history of this enterprise, from its organisation to its ultimate abandonment; but only a few, even of its original projectors, know anything about the work which it accomplished in British Columbia, Alaska, and Siberia; the obstacles which were met and overcome by its exploring and working parties; and the contributions which it made to our knowledge of an hitherto untravelled, unvisited region. Its employees, in the course of two years, explored nearly six thousand miles of unbroken wilderness, extending from Vancouver Island on the American coast to Bering Strait, and from Bering Strait to the Chinese frontier in Asia... Continue reading book >>

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