27 April 2007
Siberian Village: Land and Life in the Sakha Republic by Bella Jordan and Terry Jordan-Bychkov was an interesting little book about a small village in Siberia, Djarkhan. Jordan-Bychkov, who died a few years ago, was a geography professor in Texas. Jordan, his wife, is a native of Djarkhan.
As the title states, Djarkhan is in Sakha in northern Siberia. I have been trying to find more information about the Sakhalar, so this was a nice find. It briefly covers the history of the Sakhalar in Siberia, but since the village was a creation of Soviet collectivization, its history really isn't very long. It also suffers from a slight tendency to glorify the later Soviet years, but, of course, that's a matter of opinion.
I could not see any system at all in the way the authors used the words Sakha, Yakutia, etc. Yakut is the Russia name for the Sakha and the more familiar one to the rest of the world because of Risk. Sometimes the authors used Sakha to refer to the republic, sometimes, Yakutia. Sometimes they referred to the Sakhalar, sometimes to the Yakuts. Sometimes they referred to the Sakha language, sometimes to the Yakut language. It bothered me throughout the book. There was no explanation of terms at the beginning of the book as I would have expected. I felt this was a major failing.
Overall though it's a good book and quick to read. Most people are totally unfamiliar with the people of Siberia and this is a painless way to learn a little more about them, especially since most people aren't going to care much about terminology.