Farley Mowat's searching and effectively personalized portrait of The Siberians (KR 1972) remains, by any standard, the introduction of choice for readers young or old. Here Portisch follows the more conventional YA route, beginning with a dutiful review of history and geography, stopping for perfunctory visits to a handful of representative cities and natural wonders (Lake Baykul and the forests of Ussuri -- home of the Siberian tiger and the valuable ginseng weed) and ending with journeys on the trans-Siberian railroad and a commercial jet flight. During the stops at the research center of Akademgorodok and the industrial city of Brakst -- where a banner proclaiming ""We are conquering Siberia!"" greets new arrivals -- the appeal of Siberia for young Russians is duly demonstrated; besides economic inducements, Siberians enjoy a certain freedom from the strictures of party line and one Komsomol group was even able to sponsor a lecture on the forbidden topic of sex as long ago as 1967. Specifics of this sort are, however, the exception rather than the rule and explanations of current scientific projects are particularly weak: try to figure out how water is used to blast through frozen soil by pondering the observation that ""Since water is an element, the temperature of which is always above zero, water can be considered as heat itself."" Portisch apparently visited Siberia in the course of his research; we can only wish that he had traveled with Farley Mowat.