Russian and American journalists Mikhail Mordasov and Paul E. Richardson traveled 6,000 kilometers from Russia’s northwestern corner in the Arctic to Sochi, in the tropical climes of the Black Sea.
The idea of the project was to get behind the headlines about worsening US-Russian relations and collect powerful images and honest human stories that offered a more subtle, complex picture of Russia than is normally seen in American mass media. We sought to tell the stories of Russians whose life and work is taking the country forward, and to ask them what they felt patriotic about, what was important to them.
If you want to understand another country, you need to ask their people what is important to them.
This bilingual coffee table book is the largely photographic journal of that epic road trip. It includes over 200 compelling images of Russians and Russian places met along the way, plus a dozen texts (in both English and Russian) on everything from business to education, from roads to fools.
A museum quality hardcover photo book, The Spine of Russia is a vivid portrait of modern Russian life, and includes over 40 environmental portraits of “heroes” interviewed in depth by the journalists, each of whom was asked the timely question: "Do you consider yourself a patriot, and if so, of what and why?"
Organized in a unique, non-linear style to allow readers to construct their own trip across Russia, this is a volume you will treasure for years to come.
Click through below for a sampling of the book:
PAUL E. RICHARDSON is a journalist and publisher. Editor of Russian Life magazine, he is author of Russia Survival Guide: Business & Travel (seven editions), three novels, and a humor book on running (Running is Flying, Rodale, 2012). He has written numerous articles on Russian history, culture and life published in Russian Life and elsewhere, and has translated countless articles, short stories and longer works into English for both Russian Life and Chtenia, the company’s quarterly literary journal. Over the past two and a half decades, he has edited over two-dozen works of fiction and non-fiction, including two books to win the national award for the best Russian to English translation of the year: Ilf and Petrov’s classic novel, The Little Golden Calf, and Vladimir Gilyarovsky’s Moscow and Muscovites.
MIKHAIL MORDASOV is a photojournalist who was born in Novgorod and educated as a lawyer. After taking up photography during his military service, he shifted his professional goals to photojournalism. Since 2009 he has been traveling throughout European Russia working as a documentary photographer, visiting both the region’s wealthy cities and its poor villages. His work has been published by dozens of local and international news outlets, magazines and newspapers, including The Washington Post, NY Times, GEO, Spiegel, Le Monde, Newsweek, BBC, Russian Reporter, Ogonyok, Forbes, Expert, Kommersant, The Boston Globe, Les Echos, Berliner Zeitung, Die Zeit, Die Presse, Reuters, AFP, AP, and others. He has participated in numerous photo exhibitions and won several photo awards, including the Sony World Photography Award, and the national contests “Sporting Russia” and “The Best Photographer.”
Posted by YULIYA B. on 4th Apr 2018
Thank you for the amazing visual feast! This photo-book is a must-have for anyone who loves all-things-Russian. The book is bi-lingual, so if you are learning Russian, it would be a fun text-book of sorts. It also is a great and absolutely necessary companion to a wonderful book: Driving Down Russia's Spine. The Spine of Russia helps you put the faces to the people (and places) you read about, which makes traveling with Paul, Mikhail and Nadya even more exiting. Although you don't have to buy Driving Down Russia's Spine to enjoy The Spine of Russia's photos, but I would highly recommend getting both books. They are worth every penny! Thank you, Paul E. Richardson and Mikhail Mordasov for coming up with the idea and bringing it to life with such mastery! Many thanks to Nadya for her work as well!
Posted by Carl W. on 5th Feb 2017
I got this book as a Christmas gift for my Russian-speaking wife and myself and was very pleased with it. The bilingual design of the book made it possible for both of us to enjoy it in our native languages, and the photography is beautiful while the accompanying chapter essays tie the book together very well, along with the unifying theme of what it means to be a Russian patriot today. An outstanding book!
Posted by Gary B. on 17th Nov 2016
Excellent; Love the personal aspect and the beautiful photography. Quality of the book is superb.
Posted by Susan K. on 22nd Aug 2016
First I'll say that I loved the humorous anecdotes of the trip and, of course, all the beautiful photos. I enjoyed reading about Russian people from various walks of life; what they do; how they cope with life's challenges. Then there was the theme of patriotism. Before reading this book I had never thought about what it means to me or how I would answer that question, and it was interesting to hear all the different answers. It was especially interesting to hear how Russians define patriotism which so many North Americans seem to equate with The State which is only a tiny portion of Russia but is almost the only thing that we in the west hear from the media. This project brought home the point that travel broadens one's outlook of others, it gets us outside our comfy bubble and forces us to see things differently. Perhaps it helps us be more citizens of the world rather than citizens of one county.
Posted by David S. on 4th Aug 2016
I had high hopes for this publication, and it did not disappoint.
Posted by richard d. on 1st Aug 2016
I especially liked the atmospheric photos of churches and vernacular village architecture. if you have any more coffee table books in the future emphasizing rural scenes by this photographer i will certainly consider them. the price was just a bit high but i understand books can be expensive.
Posted by Sandra O. on 17th Jul 2016
Driving Down Russia's Spine offers so much more insight than simply reading or watching MSM, as does Russian Life. I have been fascinated by Russian culture for years so these types of books are my favorite. I can't wait for the coffee table book to arrive!