The fear of being sent to Siberia has become a popular myth, but the only way to get there, voluntarily or not, is via the Trans-Siberian Railway--and that, too, is a modern legend. The story of its construction is matched only in romance, adventure and adversity by the accounts of travelers who have made the trip on it from Moscow, in the heart of European Russia, to Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast. The author begins with the history of the Siberian conquest (occurring as late as 1852) and traces the idea of the railway (first man up with it was a Yankee--Perry McDonough Collins) through its incredible construction (completed finally with total rail mileage on Russian soil in 1916) to its political and economic by-products and its rehabilitation under various and sundry Five- Year Plans. Travelers' reports are included--to back up the quote that a first-rate job was done in building a third-rate railway. And yet the Trans-Siberian accomplished its goal--it pushed the Russian frontier right ""to the great ocean,"" thereby bringing Siberia into Mother Russia and keeping it in prime contact with European rather than Oriental civilization. The achievement itself justifies the account which is well detailed and well written.