Behind Putin's Curtain
Friendships and Misadventures Inside Russia
- By Stephan Orth - paperback 2019
An unconventional travelogue of a country that inspires both fear and fascination.
“In the late summer of 2016,” writes award-winning travel writer Stephan Orth, “a journey to Russia feels like visiting enemy territory.”
In this humorous and thought-provoking book, Orth ventures through that vast and mysterious territory to uncover the real, unfiltered Russia not seen in today’s headlines: authentic, bizarre, dangerous, and beautiful. Sidestepping the well-trod tourist path, he travels the country from Moscow to Vladivostok—across seven time zones and almost 9,500 kilometers—making stops in Chechnya, Saint Petersburg, Siberia, and beyond. Staying with an eclectic array of hosts, he bumps into gun nuts, Internet conspiracy theorists, faux shamans, and Putin fans; learns to drive in death-defying Russian style; and discovers how to cure hangovers by sniffing rye bread. But he also sees a darker side of the country, witnessing firsthand the effects of Putin’s influence in the run-up to the 2016 American election and the power of propaganda in this “post-fact” era.
Weaving everything together with thoughtfulness and warmth, Orth follows the acclaimed Couchsurfing in Iran with yet another complex, funny, and personal travelogue—a colorful portrait of a fascinating and misunderstood country.
Stephan Orth is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author. For nine years, he was online travel editor for Der Spiegel, one of Germany’s top news magazines, and he has contributed to National Geographic, the Courier-Mail, and Time Off, among other publications. He lives in Hamburg, Germany.