Inside Central Asia A political and cultural history of


Inside Central Asia A political and cultural history of Uzbekistan Turkmenistan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan Turkey and Iran This book reads like a history book for the class I never took in college That is a compliment at times It's very thorough and it achieved one of my goals in reading it understanding at a deeper level the five central Asian countries the ones that end in stan that were formerly part of the Soviet Union To boot Hiro adds chapters on Turkey and Iran as the two outside non Russian cultural and political influences on the region which both help broaden the context of the five republics and also are useful primers on those countries as well That said this book is very dry going through the thousand year history of each place Hiro also includes the Russianized version of all the names plus the date of a sovereign's reign or a person's birth date It's a little overwhelming Add to that the fact that there are a staggering number of typos and other errors including a page of text virtually repeating a previous page and this seems rather baffling considering this book is apparently an update of a previous book from the mid 1990sSo if you have a burning need to learn about Kazakhstan than what Borat offered consider a read If not you'll be no worse for the wear if you won't be able to explain the difference between Tajikistan and Turkmenistan Inside Central Asia by Dilip Hiro Published in 2009 by Overlook DuckworthThis book is a great overview of Central Asia from the rise of the Soviet Union to 2009 This book discusses Turkey the Central Asian states and Iran It picks up where Rashid’s book left off While Rashid focused mostly on Central Asia immediately after the Soviet Union disintegrated Dilip focuses on how the countries tried to rebuild themselves after the fall of the wall Hiro organizes his book based on country influence He starts the book with Turkey discussing how it went from a secular republic to an increasingly Islamic republic traveling through the Central Asian states and ending with Iran creating a bookend of influences in Central Asia This is an interesting way to weave a story together creating an insightful examination of how the ancient Turkic and Persian influences continue to affect Central Asian culture and politics It also paints an interesting picture of how interconnected the region still is despite the Soviet’s attempts to shatter the tribal relationshipsThat was the most interesting aspect of the book was how much survived the terror that was the Soviet Union The Soviet Union tried to destroy tribal relations by creating states taking territories from other tribes to encourage rivalries by replacing it with the communistic version of tribalism Yet this didn’t destroy the tribal system it just forced it underground Additionally the Soviet Union claimed that they destroyed Islam in Central Asia but again they only forced it to the underground laying the foundation for the Islamic Extremism that would be seen in the 21st century Reading this book and Rashid’s book makes me realize how much the US failed after the fall of the Soviet Union A lot of the extremism that the US deals with today comes from Central Asia While the US made a lot of mistakes they seemed to have exasperated the problem left behind by the Soviet Union The Cold War created an environment were the choice was between capitalistic democracy and communistic society Many of the people in Central Asia turned to Islam as a third decision Thus the two countries made Islam a political tool that the US will turn into a cause for war in the 21st century ProsA very insightful look into a region that is mostly ignored in the US but is a vital region for the 21st century The shape of the narrative also provides a keen understanding of how the region has been influenced over the years and how remnants of its past survived the Soviet Union It also poses the uestion can authoritarian regimes truly destroy culture and religion or can it only force it to the underground ConsIt assumes that the reader has some familiarity with the region’s history Also while it is a useful overview of the region it isn’t an in depth insight into the region It barely discusses the human rights offenses that are being committed on a daily basis it discusses women’s rights but only briefly and it doesn’t discuss any culture or literary developments A well informed book on the recent history of Central Asia and two of its neighbors with historical ties If you are at all interested in the Tajik Civil War this book is one of the best books I have found on the subject in English A must read for anyone interested in the region I cannot believe I finally finished this damn book Now I just have to carry it around for the rest of the summer Well written overview of some of the less well documented Central Asian countries Good amount of brevity balanced with main events Easy to consume and would be good for the classroom However some of the language is confusing and the construction of the book in a traditional essay format makes it seem a bit forced A well researched well written work on the Stans This vital part of the world will see US involvement for the next 100 years Oil gas air able land and the shadow of radical Islam from the Taliban will make that so A must read to really understand what happened prior to 911 And how what happened from 1946 until 911 has to be dealt with by us in a much velvet glove approach than we have used for the past 30 years Also will explain a LOT about why the US efforts over the past 30 years have fallen flat While I agree with other reviews that the book can read like a textbook it is full of great information about this region which is often lacking I wish it had a bit historical ancient cultural and topographic information as it mainly focuses on politics It was very interesting and I am glad I read it However I was somewhat disgusteddisheartened by the stories on repeat of how greedy people can be and what they will do to maintain power at the expense of the rest of the country Especially as my own country is currently having its own political scandals Perhaps that is just politics but I found it a tad sickening and sad But overall it is a great book and I'm much knowledgeable about the area The former Soviet republics of Central Asia comprise a sprawling politically pivotal densely populated and richly cultured area of the world that is nonetheless poorly represented in libraries and mainstream media Since their political incorporation in Stalin's Soviet era these countries have gone through a flash of political and economical evolution But despite these rapid changes the growth of oil wealth and US jockeying and the opening of the region to tourists and businessmen the spirit of Central Asia has remained untouched at its coreIn this comprehensive new treatment renowned political writer and historian Dilip Hiro offers us a narrative that places the modern politics peoples and cultural background of this region firmly into the context of current international focus Given the strategic location of Central Asia its predominantly Muslim population and its hydrocarbon and other valuable resources it comes as no surprise that the five Central Asian republics are emerging in the twenty first century as one of the most potentially influential and coveted patches of the globe I was looking for a general book about Central Asia This book did give me a general overview of the region HoweverIt is filled with spelling and grammatical errorsThe introduction and conclusion are essentially the same The maps are terrible and a good map would have been invaluableThe book recites a lot of facts and dates but does not do a good job of comparing contrasting or drawing conclusions from said facts Typos asideas well as the slightly superfluous chapters on Turkey and Iranthis was an amazing read Highly recommended I finished the 400 pages in about 2 days

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