Recently there has been a glut of books by well brought-up youngish Englishwomen on how they drank too much, got fissed over by motherly landlades and lost their hearts to unsuitable bofiiends in the former Soviet Union. Charlotte Hobson has done Voronezh, Wendell Steavenson Tbilisi, Alexandra Tolstoy Central Asia, Sophia Creswell St Petersburg. I've even done a couple myself. This latest, excellent example of the genre covers Victoria Bennett's six years with Reuters in Moscow. Informed, funny and flavourful, it will give laymen an authentic whiff of time and place, while proving painfully nostalgic to fellow survivors of the rollercoaster Russian 1990s.
The excuse for the book's title is Bennett's account of a series of trips south to the Caspian - to the Azeri oil-fields and to lawless Dagestan, a region I have longed to visit ever since discovering, in a Soviet-era atlas of nationalities, that the men and women of one