'Russia's Penal Colony in the Far East: A Translation of Vlas Doroshevich's "Sakhalin"' is the first English language translation of the Russian journalist Vlas Doroshevich's 1903 account of his visit to tsarist Russia's largest penal colony, Sakhalin, in the north Pacific. Despite the publication of Anton Chekhov's account of his visit to Sakhalin in 1890, many Russians remained unaware of the brutality and savagery of the 'devil island'. In 1897 Doroshevich, Russia's most popular journalist, travelled to Sakhalin and spent three months touring the island, interviewing numerous prisoners and officials, and recording his impressions. The feuilletons he wired back to his publishers were eventually collected and published in book form in 1903, under the title 'Sakhalin' (Katorga).
Doroshevich's book was enormously popular when it first appeared, and it continues to be published in Russia, as a historical record of the striking barbarity of late nineteenth century penal practices. Despite this popularity, it has never before been translated into English, and Doroshevich remains largely unknown outside Russia. This translation introduces English-language readers to an important writer and original stylist who defined journalistic practice during the years leading up to the 1917 Revolution, by way of a book which helps explain the causes for that revolution.