Colin Thubron explored the western Asian countries - Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan, and Kazakshtan, all of which were formally governed and administered by the Soviet Union.
He provides an outstanding account of people, history, religious activities, and culture of a vast region in line with history and politics. It is interesting to note how Stalin intimidated Arabic speaking people and Islamic worshippers. He didn't only interrogate or penalise his suspects and people who had made comments about him. The people were also banned to use their language at home and schools, and sing at mosques. After the collapse of Soviet Union, they gained freedom of expressions. However, the number of production of literature and music pieces in their language have not been rising. Mr Thubron reveals that masses of people have lost their jobs after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and they have been experiencing difficulties of obtaining everyday items, all of them have high prices. Ostensibly, there are loads of potential artists who are unable to buy stationery items.
Colin Thubron met several Muslim communities, and finds the reasons that they are one of the most strict and resilient communities in the world. They believe that all Muslim worshippers will be able to live on after their death if they have faithfully carried out their prayers five times a day.
The author discovers the fact of the countries which are not easy for everybody to visit. It is a very entertaining book and a good item while sitting in an armchair, and makes you feel that there is no need to visit those countries experiencing difficulties of inefficient transport, as well as dealing with complicated bureaucracies.