Jeffrey Tayler's intrepid journey up the Lena - a river closed to the world during the Soviet era - took him through some of Siberia's wildest and most hauntingly beautiful regions and brought him into contact with many groups of isolated villagers. These people survive in this region - now a wild frontier that lives off the diamond trade - cut off from the world by lack of roads, neglected by the Russian government and prey to alcoholism. Their untold stories form the focus of the book, set against the backdrop of Tayler's descriptions of incredibly harsh weather conditions and his adventures in negotiating permission to travel in the region with Russian authorities and then navigating the Lena to its mouth in the Laptev Sea, above the Arctic Circle.
Jeffrey Tayler is a renowned, Moscow-based travel author whose approach to his subject is nothing less than intrepid. His previous works include The Lost Kingdoms of Africa (2005), Valley of the Casbahs (2003) and Facing the Congo (2001), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and also writes for Conde Nast Traveller, National Geographic, Marie Claire and Harper's Magazine. In the early 1990s he was involved in the Peace Corps programme in Uzbekistan.