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CHASING THE SEA:
Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia

Author: Tom Bissell

Uzbekistan is a strange and complicated place, writes Bissell.  On one hand, it has Islamic traditions dating to the origins of the religion; on the other, it is extremely secular. Onone hand, it is very Asian; on the other, it's particularly Russian. This bilingual, bi-traditional reality makes for one of the most interesting countries in the world. And one that most Americans know nothing about.

In the mid-1990s, Tom Bissell was a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan.  After only a few months, the complications of a relationship he'd left behind forced him to return home. Haunted by his failure, Tom decided in 2001 to return to Uzbekistan -- this time to investigate the ecological disaster of the Aral Sea and to try to help in a way that he hadn't before. Joined by his guide and translator - a young, partially American-educated and unfailingly high-spirited Uzbek named Rustam - Bissell makes his often wild way through Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. Slipping more than once through the clutches of the Uzbek police, the two become close friends as they share numerous misadventures en route to the shores of the devastated Aral Sea.

Bissell's narrative unfolds in a high-octane, vividly observant, self-deprecatingly humorous prose, but it is shaped by his passionate interest in the Uzbeks -- their region's long history of violence, their culture, and the ever-increasing, ever-more-tragic hole at the heart of their land.

$25.95 (hardcover)

 

See also:
  Samarkand.Boukhara.Khiva
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