Wall to Wall: From Beijing to Berlin by Rail

Wall to Wall

Penguin Books (June 1, 1992)

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Following her celebrated Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone, Mary Morris, still alone, still graced with her extraordinary gifts of narrative and observation, presents an unforgettable account of her 1986 trip through China, Russia, and Eastern Europe. As in Nothing to Declare, she combines vivid portrayals of people and places with a more personal journey—in this case a search for roots, family, and her ancestral home in the Ukraine.

Traveling across China and Mongolia to Russia on the Trans-Siberian Express and finally on to Berlin, Morris views the changing landscapes of nations and history. She encounters and converses with a colorful assortment of people from party-liners to dissidents, from ordinary men and women to the Moscow elite.

Her journey, however, occurs against the backdrop of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. On the train and in Russia, Morris hears terrifying, contradictory reports of the condition of the region so near her intended destination outside of Kiev. In midst of this anxious situation, she is forced to make a momentous decision a continent away from family and loved ones, adding a complex inner counterpoint to the public crises unfolding around her.

Bringing her skills with foreign languages and her facility with people to this journey, Mary Morris once again proves that she is, in the words of Times magazine, “a fascinating guide, with an eye for the brutal, the garish, the silly and the bizarre.” Wall to Wall is a powerful travel memoir illuminated by the unique sensibility of one of our finest writers.