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Publisher's Summary

After two and a half years as NPR’s Moscow bureau chief, David Greene travels across the country - a 6,000 mile journey by rail, from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok - to speak with ordinary Russians about how their lives have changed in the post-Soviet years. Reaching beyond the headline-grabbing protests in Moscow, Green speaks with a group of singing babushkas from Buranovo, a teenager hawking “space rocks” from last spring’s meteor shower in Chelyabinsk, and activists battling for environmental regulation in the pollution-choked town of Baikalsk. Through the stories of fellow travelers, Greene explores the challenges and opportunities facing the new Russia: a nation that boasts open elections and newfound prosperity yet still continues to endure oppression, corruption, and stark inequality.

Set against the wintery landscape of Siberia, Greene’s lively travel narrative offers a glimpse into the soul of 20th century Russia: how its people remember their history and look forward to the future.

©2014 David Greene. Recorded by arrangement with W.W. Norton & Company. (P)2014 HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books.

What members say

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  • Sara
  • Out In The Wild Blue Yonder
  • 04-13-15

Long String of NPR Short Reports

The cadence, inflection and timing of the narration by the author is exactly the same style as short reports often heard on NPR. This style is fine in small news reports but for almost 8 hours it becomes tedious. Further, it made each clipped story of injustice, criminal behavior, and maltreatment sound completely the same.

I found the book to be a simple retelling of loosely connected events in a news reporter style with little or no insight or personal feeling and texture drawn into the telling. These are discouraging and sad stories. After three hours, listening became totally unbearable and even boring. What's more, several of the events addressed in this book are things I know about, and I have watched moving documentaries covering the stories in rich detail. Green's retelling of these same events was dry and soul-less. To me this is a relentlessly unhappy book that I can't finish or recommend.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Jimmy
  • Powell, OH, United States
  • 12-21-14

A Good Ride:

Mr. Greene believes in his work--demonstrating a sincere love and respect for the Russian people in this travel log meets cultural expose.

This tale of a foreigner in a strange land, a fish out of water, is balanced with sincere insights into the Russian Character from the objective pencil of a reporter.

This book was a pleasant listen, and I learned a lot about what average Russians struggle, hope, and fear each day. I admire more than ever this complex culture and its epic struggles both past and present.

You will enjoy this book! It is calm, delightful, and packed with unexpected insights.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The intensity of encountering modern Russia

If you could sum up Midnight in Siberia in three words, what would they be?

Insightful, moving, relevant

Who was your favorite character and why?

You meet so many marvelous Russian individuals, but the favorite character who emerges is modern Russia, herself.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

In 2007 I spent 3 months in Russia as an American with little prior understanding of the country, and this book vividly brought back many feelings from that time. I was so grateful to recognize what I had seen and felt while there in a fellow traveler's experience. I recognized the culture-shock, and realization that there is this vast nation on the other side of the world about which most of us know very little, and that these people have a history and point of view that is unique and completely fascinating. It was very moving.

Any additional comments?

David Greene captures so many elements of the culture, from confusing idiosyncrasies of day-to-day Russian life, to a deeper, insidious mindset that holds fast to a nation of people beaten down by decades (or centuries, really) of political repression. By travelling via third class railway tickets across the country, Greene offers a unique perspective that cannot be found by studying Russian history or following the news. You learn about the state of humanity in this nation. While watching the development of post-soviet Russia from afar, it can be completely perplexing for a westerner to grasp such things as Putin's high approval rating, or a wave of seemingly anti-democratic, anti-western sentiment from the country. This book helps make sense of a nation of people who have been closed to America for so much of the 20th century, and it's incredibly relevant for any American who wants to better understand who those people are.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Loved it!

I love audiobooks narrated by the author. You get the message as it was intended. I found this book exciting, and gave me food for thought weeks afterward. A success, in my book.

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Fascinating tale

Very, very good book with embedded anecdotes and history vignettes. Good way to get a deeper understanding of the everyday person in Russia.
Only a few authors are also good narrators - Mr Greene is an exception and his narration makes the book even better.

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It made me drink.

Would you listen to Midnight in Siberia again? Why?

Yes, David bought some real feel to Russia. I would like revisit his take on things, particularly where he went to. I was compelling.

What other book might you compare Midnight in Siberia to and why?

Odd, but I was thinking of Mark Twain, and a smidgeon of Woody Allen, but I could not think of any real titles, just some of the topicality.

Which scene was your favorite?

Drinking by the mothers grave in the Ukraine.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

Mayo, horse sausage, and vodka. Also metal detectors that go off as you walk through them, but you keep on going .

Any additional comments?

None at the moment

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Intriguing

Any additional comments?

I found this very interesting, I loved the in depth personal narrative. I was a little thrown off by the condescension or lack of understanding toward the non-American-ness of Russia. But overall, I think I learned a lot about Russian culture and every day life and am even more excited for my own Trans-Siberian trip!

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Russia.s people from west to east

You might like reading/hearing this really fascinating book. Trains' taxis and hovercraft. With a young correspondant, David Green. He went to HS in Lancaster.
Love, Pat

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Getting to know people who live in Russia

This is very easy listening because it is stories about the lives of interesting people.

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Like "All Things Considered", only much longer!

Good insights into the Russian fatalistic state of Mind. I am third generation American, with a western Ukrainian Jewish background but I can see the traces of those fatalistic sensibilities in my families genes.
Although the editor did not catch a few grammatical or geographical errors, Such as The Pyong Yang restaurant in Vladivovstok being a propaganda tool of South Korea. In spite of a few other verbal faux pas David Greene has a wonderful voice and is an accomplished writer. He succeeded with his democratic look at an people favoring an autocracy, the type of government it has been their lot historically. As my beloved Ukrainian Grandmother would say "if a worm has only known horseradish. How can it dream of an
His end note about the people simply craving a group to identify with, was a great insight. This feeling resonates after my own experiences with Russians, either as expats or in my travels in Russia or other parts of the world.