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The Vodka-Cola Cowboy: Trucking Russia 1990-1995 - Mick Twemlow

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A really great read Review by Neil McCormick of Solway Vehicle Enthusiasts
A really great read. Personally I'm not a big reader of books but I read this book in four days.
Possibly helped by the fact that I have driven over mainland Europe for a few years, this helped to understand what the author actually went through at borders and such like. It was also a very interesting history lesson as well. His knowledge of the country and his patience at learning the language was a credit to him.
This book left me wanting more of his life story. I would personally give it five out five starts (Posted on 17/05/2017)
A must-read Review by Neil Cross
Author Mick Twemlow left school at 15 and joined the British Army and after leaving the army in 1972 he became a lorry driver as well as a professional musician. The 315 page book tells the encounters Mick had driving in one of the harshest driving environments in the world! Transporting goods through Russia between 1990 and 1995. Mick gives a graphic account of his experiences, many humorous, like when he went to buy some sugar from a corner shop in Moscow but was sold a chocolate cake instead, because the cake was sweet, the cake ended up in the river!! Other funny accounts of Mick’s experiences included a ‘Dare,’ where a fellow British trucker dared him to ‘Borrow’ a black tray from a bar!! A much more harrowing account was ‘Vlad the Impaler’ a tricky customer that Mick encountered close to Focsani in Rumania and Vlad’s request for 50 DM to park his lorry in lay-by for the night.... You will have to read the book yourselves to find out about his experiences - REVS News (Feb 2017) (Posted on 17/05/2017)
An incredible read Review by Classic Truck
A British owner-driver called Mick Twemlow has written a book about his varied and interesting life as an international long-distance truck driver.
His escapades took him to Russia and the former USSR. He hauled goods there, eventually living with his future wife Elena, and subsequently marrying and having a daughter.
Russia is renowned for being a very harsh environment to work in. There are the incredibly cold winters, the tough terrain, corruption, harsh treatment from the authorities, including law enforcement officers, organised criminal gangs - it's a tough place to operate, let alone work in! Drivers had to be aware of; and cope with all of this.
In one example of the way things work there, Mick tells of how life spiralled out of control for one hapless driver, Johnny Dicks, who was on his way back to his cab after having sunk a few beers and was accosted by four police officers who thought he was a drunk Russian. One of them punched him, so naturally, he struck back. Unfortunately, he had just hit the head of the police and was then subject to a serious beating, arrest and jail. They went through his things and, because they like to treat foreigners with respect, patched him up (a doctor was summoned and stitched him up without anaesthetic) and returned him to his truck.
Mick eventually returned to the UK, worked in the Benefits Agency, Probation Service and Prison Service, and then spent some more years truck driving before retiring in 2015.
Russia is still an unknown quantity as far as international trucking is concerned, so in exposing how it is to live and work in the country as a truck driver and describing some of the trials and tribulations, as well as many of the advantages this country has to offer, anyone with a curious and wanderlust nature will find this book an incredible read! (Posted on 17/05/2017)
Hard to put down Review by Hugh Turner
Found this book hard to put down, very interesting, it covers the early days of Russia after the break up of the U.S.S.R. so a bit of history. The author is one remarkable man and this well written book is a credit to him, a really good read recommended (Posted on 17/05/2017)
328 very readable pages Review by Klassiska Lastbilar
“…The Vodka-Cola Cowboy, which is about driving in Russia. Driver Mick Twemlow, who later also settled in the country, tells of his time there and shows images from the tough everyday life in the East. For £ 14.95 you get 328 very readable pages” (translated from the review in Swedish magazine, Klassiska Lastbilar) (Posted on 17/05/2017)
Back in the USSR Review by Transport News
The recent spate of truck drivers' biography books has concentrated mostly on 1970 and 80s Middle East transport, so Mick Twemlow's 'The Vodka-Cola Cowboy, Trucking Russia 1990-1995' offers a refreshing change for readers who enjoy a tale of the road.
Mick must have kept a detailed diary of his driving life, as his vast file of recollections provide a fascinating journal of relatively unknown transport sphere.
Well written in a personal style, Mick did much more than drive to and from Russia, as his passion for the job included learning the language and culture of a people who were then enduring a time of great change. The Vodka-Cola Cowboy is highly recommended! (Posted on 12/05/2017)
A most informative and very interesting read Review by “Sandway” Trucknet forum
To all ex drivers I can recommend it as a most informative and very very interesting read. To all present day drivers. Read it. You will not be disappointed. To anyone who isn't or never was a lorry driver find out what was required to pioneer these virtually unknown routes across inhospitable and dangerous lands not that many years ago.

Thanks for writing it Micky (Posted on 30/03/2017)
An evocative picture of what life was like trucking in one of the harshest environment in the world Review by Andy Stewart - Trucking magazine
This fascinating book paints an evocative picture of what life was like trucking in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments in the world. It charts the experiences of the author, British owner-driver Mick Twemlow, who made a living transporting goods to and from Russia and the wider Soviet Union between 1990-1995 - a period of great unrest in the country. Based in Moscow with his future wife Elena and their daughter, Margarita, who was born in the city, Mick worked hard to be accepted in Russian society and learned the language in 1992. This book vividly illustrates the conditions British truck drivers encountered in the country. (Posted on 09/01/2017)
Vodka and Coke Review by Truck and Driver
It's about time we saw an account of a trucking adventure that's not about the overland route to the Middle East. Author Mick Twemlow explains how and why he became an international truck driver then takes us on a journey across western Europe to Moscow and back, loading/unloading at all points in between. He deals with the trials and tribulations he encountered over the years, everything from corrupt officials to atrocious weather and horrific accidents, proving that trucking to Russia and beyond is not for the fainthearted. Accompanying Twemlow on his five-years odyssey gives us a first-hand account of the end of the Soviet Union and how it affected ordinary people and his business. Admittedly, more photos of the trucks, places visited and certainly maps would enhance this 315-page truck driver's travelogue, but if you've ever wondered what life was like living and driving behind the former Iron Curtain then this book is for you. (Posted on 09/01/2017)
I admire his determination to set himself challenges and see them through despite distractions of significant magnitude. Review by The Leyland Society
The author of this book, Mick Twemlow is a remarkable advertisement for Army recruitment with his ability to see his way through a huge variety of difficult and dangerous situations and survive them relatively unscathed.
I admire his determination to set himself challenges and see them through despite distractions of significant magnitude. Mick and I are the same age and I have done my fair share of driving both here and overseas but the challenge of such adverse weather conditions, abusive policing and the overpowering aura that everyone you met was intent on emptying your wallet would have seen me gone after the first return journey.
Well done Mick, a pleasure to read cover to cover in 2 days flat!

David Berry
(Posted on 22/11/2016)

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