By "Inner Asia" is meant the area corresponding roughly to modern Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and the Chinese province of Xinjiang. The history of this region is fascinating, and little known in the West. There is a clear need for books about it.
Unfortunately, "A History of Inner Asia" does not meet this need. It purports to cover nearly 1400 years, from the emergence of Islam to the present, but this coverage is very unbalanced - about a third of the book is devoted to the last 100 years. The challenge of a history covering such a diverse and complex region is to weave the threads into a coherent account. The author has not met this challenge. A lot of detail has been amassed between the covers of this book, but writing good history requires more than amassing detail. Consequently, the book does not engage the reader's interest.
The author displays a surprising failure of scholarship in his treatment of Chinese names. Instead of adopting the standard Pinyin transliterations, he uses an arbitrary mixture of transliterations, apparently at random. Mixed with Pinyin (Beijing, Xian) we find old Wade-Giles spellings (Hsi-Hsia, Hsuan-Tsang) and old British spellings derived from Cantonese pronunciation (Sinkiang). Sometimes the same Chinese character is represented in different ways on the same page! (Peiting, Beijing - the first syllable of both place-names is the Chinese character for "north"). Bei Lu is in Pinyin on page 266, but spelt "Peilu" in the index. Some of the transliterations do not follow any system; for example in Appendix 2, where the Chinese for "autonomous region" (zizhi qu, in pinyin) is rendered as "zeji chu". The author seems to have made it up, or possibly transliterated into the Latin alphabet from some Cyrillic transliteration.