ussuri-kray-cover-300As a specialist natural history book reviewer, the majority of books reaching me are ones I expected, having heard about their development from editors, publicists, or the authors themselves; but every so often one comes genuinely out of the proverbial left field.

Such an unexpected recent arrival found its way to my desk in a package from Indiana University Press. The book, Across the Ussuri Kray; Travels in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains, was not only one I was not expecting, it was by an author of whose work I was wholly unfamiliar – in fact his name I had never before even heard.

However now that I have heard the name Vladimir K. Arsenyev and become a bit more  familiar with his life and work as an explorer and naturalist in the Russian Far East, I am very keen to discover what he wrote about his 1906 journey into the culturally and ecologically diverse Sikhote-Alin mountain range (which to be honest, I hadn’t previously heard of either – but then that is after all why we read, isn’t it?).