The fascinating history of an unknown people
A vivid mixture of history and reporting, The Shaman’s Coat tells the story of some of the world’s least-known peoples—the indigenous tribes of Siberia. Russia’s equivalent to the Native Americans or Australian Aborigines, they divide into two dozen different and ancient nationalities—among them Buryat, Tuvans, Sakha, and Chukchi. Though they number more than one million and have begun to demand land rights and political autonomy since the fall of communism, most Westerners are not even aware that they exist.
Journalist and historian Anna Reid traveled the length and breadth of Siberia—one-twelfth of the world’s land surface, larger than the United States and Western Europe combined—to tell the story of its people. Drawing on sources ranging from folktales to KGB reports, and on interviews with shamans and Buddhist monks, reindeer herders and whale hunters, camp survivors and Party apparatchiks, The Shaman’s Coat travels through four hundred years of history, from the Cossacks’ campaigns against the last of the Tatar khans to native rights activists against oil development. The result is a moving group portrait of extraordinary and threatened peoples, and a unique and intrepid travel chronicle.