Thursday, July 03, 2008
Latest Book Read - Hunted Through Central Asia by Paul Nazaroff
I recently read Paul Nazaroff, trans. Malcolm Burr, Hunted Through Central Asia: On the run from Lenin's Secret Police (Oxford: OUP, 2002). First published in 1932, this book narrates Nazaroff's flight from Tashkent through what is now Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan into Chinese Turkestan. Implicated in an anti-Bolshevik uprising in fall 1918, Nazaroff is arrested by the Cheka and then freed from incarceration by White forces. But, the Bolsheviks again gain the upper hand and Nazaroff finds himself taking refuge among the native populations of Central Asia as he makes his way out of the Turkestan ASSR. A lot of the book takes place in Pishpek as Bishkek was then known and the surrounding environs. His descriptions of the area at the time are absolutely fascinating. He presents detailed observations regarding the flora, fauna and geology of the region. He also has a lot of very interesting commentary about the domestic living arrangements of the Uzbeks, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz. The book resembles a thriller in its narrative structure and thus reads fast. If you are looking for something both entertaining and informative to read I highly recommend this book.