Thursday, August 09, 2007

Things that make a dissertator happy.

In the past couple of days I've read some good things and am more excited about my project than I have been. Things are still a bit murky---ok, maybe a lot murky---but I'm definitely getting more and more into it. Yay! I'm feeling good about my current work plan.

At the moment I'm reading a cute little book. It was written by the son of an American Red Cross worker in Siberia during the Russian civil war years, and includes some of her published (and unpublished) letters and articles written while there. To string them all together, the author's filled in the context with some lively prose about what was happening. He's clearly not a capital-H historian, but it's pretty decent stuff. His admiration for his mother---"Mother," he calls her, his fondness for the subject, and empathy for the Russian people shine through. The book is also the story of his and his wife's journey to post-Soviet Russia to see for themselves some of the places that his mother lived. And there are some interesting photos included. One of them makes me especially happy. It's of a famous (for me) train that I had yet to see a photo of! Seeing the photo proves a funny anecdote that I found while doing research in 2003 at the National Archives in Ottawa.

I came across this book only after some determined Googling. [Is that not a word yet? Blogger's spell-check doesn't like it.] See, an article about this woman was published five years ago in a popular magazine about Russian life and culture. In the notes to that piece, the author noted that his subject's son was putting together a book about her. So I searched this guy's name . . . but only found that he'd died in 2003! FN might remember me being despondent over that. But I kept on searching and eventually came across mention of this book, which was finished by the author's son---the grandson of "Mother." It was published in Moscow in 2004; I ordered it up from a Russian-language book ordering service. Best of all, it's in both Russian and English!

All this is making me very happy right now :-). I must go back to reading it.

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