When and Where It All Began
The photo above shows me on a hydrofoil on the Amur River at Khabarovsk, on the Russian-Chinese border, in the summer of 1993, during a trip across the Russian Far East on the Trans-Siberian Railway, during which I first learned about the Czecho-Slovak Legion. Significant fighting between the legionnaires and Red Army forces occurred in 1918 along the Trans-Siberian at Khabarovsk. The Chinese call the Amur River the "Black Dragon River," the title of a new book by Dominic Ziegler (Penguin Press, 2015). The new Russian flag flutters behind me, a novelty in that Russia wasn't eager to rid itself of Soviet statues and insignia. I purchased an old Soviet flag as a souvenir but it was ripped from my grip by the fierce winds atop another hydrofoil speeding across Lake Baikal; my beloved Soviet souvenir lies at the bottom of the lake.