04 September 2020

Book Review: Berlin - Moskau: Eine Reise zu Fuß by Wolfgang Büscher

This is the travelogue of the author, who wanted to walk from Berlin to Moscow. It took him three months to do so. It was a long walk, and the way was filled with interesting episodes.

See, the author was definitely a walker. He would walk the whole day, covering long distances like 40 kilometres per day. This dwarfs my own output when I hit the hiking trails, which typically are only between 15 and 25 kilometres long per segment. The author was definitely determined to get to Moscow, and as he walked eastwards, he encountered plenty of interesting characters by the wayside.

The narratives that this book contains paint curious characters along the way. Characters that have been forgotten by time, characters that have demons from the past, and everything else in between. In addition, the narrative also has a large psychological component. After all, walking from Berlin to Moscow for three months would be a very solitary activity, so there's plenty of things that can happen within one's head. This book details them all.

Perhaps one thing I liked about this travelogue is that it isn't very much focused on the travel. There isn't a lot of descriptions about the way, the places, and the sights. In other words, I didn't get the feeling that this book was written with the intention of allowing the readers to vicariously travel as well. Rather, it felt more an uncovering of history of the places the author has traversed, providing historical episodes at the microscopic level, by focusing more on the various historical episodes that were relevant to the little villages that the author passed by.

I have to admit, this wasn't the easiest book for me to read. The vocabulary was not easily accessible for me, which counts against my command of the German language, and not against the book. This points to the fact that the book touches more on abstract concepts, and less about concrete concepts surrounding travel. It was therefore not as easy for me to rely on top-down domain knowledge in order to fully understand the book.

In any case, I would still say that I enjoyed this book. I might not want to walk from Berlin to Moscow, but given that I am into hiking trails nowadays, this is still an enjoyable read for me. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

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