Appointment in Dauria: George Kennan, George Frost, and the Architectural Context

Brumfield, William Craft

In the fall of 1885 George Kennan, together with the artist George Frost, traversed the vast territory of the Transbaikal region as part of a project to collect information on the tsarist penal and exile system in Siberia. This material would form the basis of Kennan's fundamental work, Siberia and the Exile System, published in 1891. Although Kennan was a devoted student of Russian history and culture, the shattering impact of Kennan's descriptions, as well as his active lecture campaigns in support of Russian exiles, would have a significant effect on American perceptions of the
tsarist regime.

Nonetheless, Siberia and the Exile System is not solely a determined study of the Siberian penal system. In tandem with Kennan's primary purpose, the book has passages that cross into the realm of the travel account, albeit under extreme conditions.

It is not my purpose to give commentary on the details of Kennan's trip. That commentary has been provided by other specialists. Rather, my intention
is to present a view of the architecture and historical background of the settlements through which Kennan and Frost pass.


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January 7, 2021