Lost in the Taiga: One Russian Family's Fifty-Year Struggle for Survival and Religious Freedom in the Siberian Wilderness

October 30, 2020
Lost in the Taiga: One Russian Family's Fifty-Year Struggle for Survival and Religious Freedom in the Siberian Wilderness

Filenote | OCR'd, TOC built, PaginatedOriginal Title Таёжный тупикIn the late 1970s, a Russian pilot flying over a remote,mountainous stretch of the Siberian taiga, the vast subarcticforest, spotted a tilled field hundreds of miles from any knownsettlement. He could not believe his eyes; in this forbidding partof the world, human habitation was a statistical impossibility.A team of scientists parachuted in and were stunned by what theyfound: a primitive wood cabin, and a family dressed in rags thatspoke, thought, and lived in the manner of seventeenth-centuryRussian peasants during the reign of Tsar Peter the Great. How theycome here, how they survived, and how they ultimately prevailed ina climate of unimaginable adversity make for one of the mostextraordinary human adventures of this century. Acclaimed Pravdajournalist Vasily Peskov has visited this family once a year forthe past twelve years, gaining their trust and learning theirstory. It begins in the late seventeenth century, when a communityof Russian Orthodox fundamentalists made a two-thousand-mileodyssey from the Ukraine to the depths of the Siberian taiga toescape religious persecution at the hands of Peter the Great, whosought to reform the Russian Orthodox Church.For nearly 250 years, this band of "Old Believers" kept theoutside world at bay, but in the 1930s Stalin's brutalcollectivization program swept East and threw them from their land.But the young family of Karp Osipovich Lykov refused to abandon theonly way of life they knew, and fled even deeper into the desolateSiberian hinterland. By the time Peskov came to know them, they hadbeen alone for more than fifty years, surviving solely on what theycould harvest, hunt, and build by their own means. The solesurviving family member, the daughter Agafia, lives by herself inthe Lykov family cabin to this day. In Lost in the Taiga,Peskov brings to life the Lykovs' faith, their doubt, and theirepic struggle against an unyielding wilderness, even as he payshomage to a natural habitat th