Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Apples Are from Kazakhstan: The Land that Disappeared Hardcover – April 17, 2008

46 customer reviews

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$13.18 $2.33

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Robbins’ engaging travelogue is an educational antidote to misperceptions about the country spread by the movie Borat (2006). Robbins, the author of The Empress of Ireland (2005), among other works, intermingles tales of his own adventures in Kazakhstan with stories of the country’s Soviet history and various rulers. Over the course of his travels, Robbins speaks with a local philosopher, fends off a prostitute, and, of course, visits the country’s apple orchards. He learns that tales of King Arthur may well come from Kazakh legends, and he journeys through the country with Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev. From describing his visits to Kazakhstan’s wealth of oil fields to hearing a perfect John Lennon impersonation during his explorations, Robbins brings to light a complex and fascinating Kazakhstan unknown to most Westerners. --Katherine Boyle

Review

"A delightful and masterful travelogue. . . . combining grave topics with less grave ones and adding a good dose of wit. . . . Highly recommended." -- Library Journal (starred review)

"A superlative addition to the literature of travel." -- The Observer (UK)

"Robbins's travelogue enthusiastically and infectiously blends history, observation, and mini biographies. . . . A captivating read notable for off-the-cuff candor and measured, eloquent prose." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[This] engaging travelogue is an educational antidote to misperceptions about the country spread by the movie Borat (2006. . . . From describing his visits to Kazakhstan's wealth of oil fields to hearing a perfect John Lennon impersonation during his explorations, Robbins brings to light a complex and fascinating Kazakhstan unknown to most Westerners." -- Booklist
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atlas (April 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977743381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977743384
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Vitya on May 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Unless you are interested in Soviet history or Kazakhstan already, this book would probably not be that interesting. Since I am both a keen student of the former and relatively interested in the latter, I found this book fascinating.
I have been to Kazakhstan two years ago (on business), but as is usually the case with brief visits, I only saw what's obvious and superficial. This book was perfect as it dug deeper and explained a lot of what I saw.
The author does a good job keeping it lively and interesting, his style remind me of Bill Bryce's travelogues. My only note (and I read the British edition, it may have been changed in the US) is that the book is somewhat rambling. The author follows a personal narrative ("I did this, saw that") but it jumps around in a non-linear fashion, so you are not exactly sure when things are taking place and what season it is. And some poor editing as well, I think the story about the President's youth is repeated a couple times.

Lastly - the attitude towards the President seems overly diffident. I agree with the author that the country owes most of its recent progress to him, but I think a more neutral tone could be achieved. Given the history of Western writers being smitten by Soviet dictators (I am implying the analogy), I think one should tread carefully.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Graham on July 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a strange mixture of a travelogue and an anecdotal history of Kazakhstan. Robbins characterizes Kazakhstan as an ancient country which has been long forgotten in the West, and he seeks to rediscover the diversity of its past and present.

He describes his travels from the wild steppes of the central country, to the old capital at Almaty, to the nightclubs of the brash new modern capital at Astana. As we travel, he provides interesting historical side stories on the Kazakhstan exiles of Trotsky, Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn; on Sakharov's witnessing of the first Soviet H-bomb tests; and on the horrific forced labor camps of Stalin's Gulag. He also recounts many other fragments of its history, not least that indeed "apples are from Kazakhstan".

As part of his visit, Robbins had multiple interviews with President Nazarbayev and was allowed to travel with him during a tour of some of Kazakhstan's remoter areas. Nazarbayev's quoted reminiscences are interesting, especially around the fall of the Soviet Union and the birth of independent Kazakhstan (although like all politician's memoirs, his words should probably be read cautiously). Robbins has clearly benefited from Nazarbayev's help and in return he is notably delicate in addressing potentially awkward issues. There have been allegations of significant high level corruption in Kazakhstan and of the forcible discouraging of political opposition, but these are not topics that Robbins dwells on.

On the plus side, Robbins has clearly fallen in love with Kazakhstan and he paints a broadly sympathetic picture of a country that has a difficult past, a beautiful but often barren landscape, a climate of hot summers and extreme winters.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Almelle on May 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have been interested in Kazakhstan since I spent a summer there almost ten years ago. Borat notwithstanding, most Westerners are unfamiliar with the region: this was the ONLY book about Central Asia among thousands of travel and guidebooks at my local mass-market bookstore.

Robbins' writing is a great introduction to Kazakhstan for westerners, as he reviews the country's history and relates amusing anecdotes from his travels. Most western literature on Kazakhstan is dryly academic or political in nature, and focuses on the country's problems and the need for international involvement; this is the first book I've read, that, while acknowledging the challenges, presents a positive view of Kazakhstan's present and future.

As E. Salimova points out in her review, the book is filled with western bias, and only an introduction - but it is a positive introduction, and one that I hope will whet western appetites for greater understanding of the region.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
First off, "Borat" only earns two asides. Second, this is not as "hilarious" as one prominent blurb promises, but for a solid, rather self-effacing narrative in straightforward journalistic style, it fulfills the need for a serious introduction to this massive ex-Soviet republic. There's not a lot of excitement, but this dignified study, enhanced by Bob Gale's illustrations, reminds us of the golden era of British travelogues through Central Asia.

Robbins, while not a showy writer, conveys efficiently a lot of information from past visitors-- not all of whom traveled there willingly. He sums up Tolstoy's forced stay, Dostoevsky's harrowing brush with the firing squad, tsarist imprisonment and internal exile, Solzhenitsyn's Stalinist gulag and post-independence resentment at Kazakh national pride, and Frederick Burnaby's dogged Victorian treks at 70 below. Robbins at his best conveys the visceral thrill of each of these storied predecessors.

His own prose I found more serviceable; he rarely draws our attention to it. But it subtly works to steadily roam these forbidding steppes. Near Tolstoy's old flat, he finds his own: in true Soviet fashion it's "unfinished, but in an advanced state of decay." (52) I vaguely had heard of the WWII mass deportation/genocide of Chechens. Robbins cites a postwar report the "head of the Department of Special Deportees" reporting to Moscow on the survivors starving through two winters by eating grass: "The absence of clothes and footwear in winter could have a fatal effect on their ability to work." (qtd.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?