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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review: In The Footsteps Of The Russian Snowman, by Dmitri Bayanov

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Crypto-Logos Publishers; 1st edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 5900229181
  • ISBN-13: 978-5900229188
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.2 x 8 inches

The world's first English-language book on the searches for the elusive relict hominoid (popularly known as the snowman) in the lands of the former Soviet Union, written by Russian researchers themselves.

The information is given in full detail, soberly discussed, arranged geographically and presented chronologically, from the accounts of medieval travelers to the sighting reports of the current decade.

Numerous observations of relict hominoids in the wild or in captivity include a case of interbreeding with humans. But is the snowman a reality? This book does its best to answer that very question.

Well, this is a book I wanted to get hold of for years but never managed to -the price for a copy was way too steep but now, well I bit the bullet and ordered a copy.  If you search around on the internet you can get the best price.

So I received the book Tuesday and decided to sit down and read it.

I got to the last page at 23:20 hours.  It was a very fascinating book.  I did this with Bayanov's last book, Bigfoot Research The Russian Vision which you will find reviewed here:

Some material from this book is repeated in the larger (previously reviewed) book but there is a great deal that, if my memory serves me right, was not included so reading the papers again is like reading something new anyway!

And what a book this is.  I think that it is fair to say that, annoying though it may be to our American cousins, researchers in the old Soviet Union actually led the way in field work and scientific research on the subject of Relict Hominoid research  It cannot be argued as all the facts are there in print.  There was the officially approved search for the "snowman" in 1958 (under the watchful eyes of a border police unit), then the attacks by those who ridiculed the subject but refused to even look at the reports or go on any field trip.  People that my late colleague Franklyn A. Davin-Wilson defined thusly: "Expert. "X" ="The Unknown" and "Spurt" ="A Drip Under Pressure"!"

Some hominologists, such as Vladimir Pushkarev, paid the ultimate price in the quest and others such as Maya Bykova faced a certain amount of name calling and derision and in Bykova's case it was because of her unshakable stance in not identifying the witnessor the geographic location of the sightings, including her own, of the hominid named "Mecheny" and I think her reasons were sound if annoying to other hominologists.

If you are involved in studying wildlife you are acutely aware that for every group of supporters there is another group wanting to hunt/kill.  Badger groups in the UK are very secretive and not surprisingly so. There are also mammals and birds that have been/are being reintroduced and there are people who want to hunt and kill those re-introduced species.  Between 1977 -2007 I was a wildlife advisor to UK police forces on exotic species, mainly large non-Native cats.  I would talk to country estate owners, game keepers, naturalists, villagers, police officers and many others but there was one edict I set myself and that was "by neither word nor deed to cause harm to any animal".  There are people who knew of animals locally but would not talk until they knew that even there names were given in total confidence let alone a sighting location.  Even the police kept quiet!  There were hard times when I was offered what I consider to be very high and ridiculous amounts by national newspapers for a map of which animal was there. I rejected all offers.

So, if you are taken into the confidence of a person(s) locally you keep your word.  If you are given the opportunity to get a first hand viewing of a hominid and you are sworn to secrecy then you record everything you can.  Locals granting you that opportunity are accepting you as a trusted friend.  You do not betray that trust.  Bykova never did. And then you have the very protective locals who think you should leave hominids alone -Nikola Avdeyev came under fire for closing in on a hominid's home:the warning was very clear -"Leave it. Go!"

There are researchers named in this book who should, rightly, be as well known as Ivan T. Sanderson, Bernard Heuvelman, John Green or Rene Dahinden.  They went into the remote parts of the old Soviet Union and they spoke to locals, found out histories and regional names for hominids.  Documented personal observations and much more that makes a great deal of what far better financed American researchers have done look like "basics" (and I am not insulting North American hominologists here).

What I found fascinating is the history of what we call "Bigfoor", "Yeti" or "Almasty" back into ancient times -the relics and records of their existence.  It is amazing and even with all of this available to the more learned historian in the West what have they done?  They confine these accounts to fairy tales and myth because "these things don't exist" -but I could write a book on that attitude alone!

How Russian hominologists solved Horse mane-platting as "natural"....but then got a shock.  Habits, descriptions, histories that I have read elsewhere but which were watered down somewhat.  This book may need up-dating since it was published in 1996 but it is the source if you want the first hand details from the people who did the work and were there rather than the cut-up versions by authors who were not.

It is rare for a book to actually grip me enough to read it in one go.  I can only give it my highest recommendation as a must buy if you have even a passing interest in the subject.

Sadly, the current situation in the fragmented country is such that researchers really cannot travel as far and wide on field trips as they used to. War and political turmoil are the enemy of any serious field worker -there are enough dangers without having to risk being shot at.

This book does Russian hominologists, the founders of the science, true justice.  Perhaps one day some TV people will not treat them as "the Russian oddballs" in their documentaries but will take them seriously and give them and the work they have done the respect they are due.

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