Sovietistan: Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan

Sovietistan: Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan

by Erika Fatland
Sovietistan: Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan

Sovietistan: Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan

by Erika Fatland


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An unforgettable journey through Central Asia, one of the most mysterious and history-laden regions of the world.

Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan became free of the Soviet Union in 1991. But though they are new to modern statehood, this is a region rich in ancient history, culture, and landscapes unlike anywhere else in the world.

Traveling alone, Erika Fatland is a true adventurer in every sense. In Sovietistan, she takes the reader on a compassionate and insightful journey to explore how their Soviet heritage has influenced these countries, with governments experimenting with both democracy and dictatorships.

In Kyrgyzstani villages, she meets victims of the tradition of bride snatching; she visits the huge and desolate Polygon in Kazakhstan where the Soviet Union tested explosions of nuclear bombs; she meets shrimp gatherers on the banks of the dried out Aral Sea; she witnesses the fall of a dictator.

She travels incognito through Turkmenistan, a country that is closed to journalists. She meets exhausted human rights activists in Kazakhstan, survivors from the massacre in Osh in 2010, and German Mennonites that found paradise on the Kyrgyzstani plains 200 years ago. We learn how ancient customs clash with gas production and witness the underlying conflicts between ethnic Russians and the majority in a country that is slowly building its future in nationalist colors.

Once the frontier of the Soviet Union, life follows another pace of time. Amidst the treasures of Samarkand and the brutalist Soviet architecture, Sovietistan is a rare and unforgettable adventure.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643133263
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 01/07/2020
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Erika Fatland studied Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. Her 2011 book, The Village of Angels, was an in situ report on the Beslan terror attacks of 2004 and she is also the author of The Year Without Summer, describing the harrowing year that followed the massacre on Utøya in 2011. For Sovietistan (2019) she was shortlisted for the Edward Stanford/Lonely Planet Debut Travel Writer of the Year, and The Border (2020) was shortlisted for the Stanfords Dolman Travel Book of the Year 2020. Both are available from Pegasus Books. She speaks eight languages and lives in Oslo with her husband.

Table of Contents

Map of "Sovietistan" 6-7

Names 9

List of Illustrations 14

The Door to Hell 17

Turkmenistan: Map of Turkmenistan 22-23

The Underground People 25

The Marble City 37

Dictatorstan 46

Desert Flower 66

The Dictator's Fall 83

The Final Expedition 95

The Era of Supreme Happiness 109

Borderland 115

Kazakhstan: Map of Kazakhstan 120-121

An Oasis of Sushi and A.T.M.s 123

On the Tracks 131

The Sea that Vanished 145

The Empire 155

Kazakh Polo 162

Stalin's Pawns 167

The Capital City 172

The Great Experiment 180

A Weak Heart 198

Father of Apples 204

The Tired Activist 209

A Hard Blow 215

Tajikistan: Map of Tajikistan 222-223

Mercedes Benz Capital 225

Out of Time 233

The Sad Serving Lady 263

The Faces of War 268

The Great Game 277

Map of Russian Expansion in the Nineteenth Century 282-283

The Land at the Foot of the Sun 302

Let's Fight Corruption Together! 312

Kyrgyzstan: Map of Kyrgyzstan 318-319

Moment of Freedom 321

Don't Cry, You are My Wife Now 328

The Eagle Men 340

The Last Germans in Rot-Front 350

Greek Nuts 360

Five Days in June 368

Silence in the Waiting Room 374

Do You Have Any Porn with You, Miss? 376

Uzbekistan: Map of Uzbekistan 380-81

The Art of Keeping up Appearances 383

Such Stuff as Dreams are Made of 396

The Museum in the Desert 405

The God of Cotton 415

In Search of Lost Time 428

Pearls of the Silk Road 440

The End Station 448

Afterword - The Death of a Dictator 464

Acknowledgments 471

Notes 473

Bibliography 475

About the Author and Translator 479

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