Whittell (Central Asia, Globe Pequot, 1996) intended to retrace the journey of Stephen Graham, whose Through Russian Central Asia was written before the Great War and the Russian Revolution. Whittell embarked on his own journey in 1992 and nominally follows Graham's route but forges his own path through Turmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan, and Kazakhstan. He provides fascinating glimpses of contemporary life in the newly independent nations of Central Asia, a region that until recently was inaccessible to Westerners. Always resourceful, he watches a rocket launch, visits the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan, sleeps in a yurt, and travels to a glacier in the Tien Shan Mountains. An unforgettable assortment of locals shower him with hospitality. Illustrations would have further enhanced this otherwise delightful book. Recommended for the armchair traveler.-Ravi Shenoy, Hinsdale P.L., Ill.