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Dateline Mongolia: An American Journalist in Nomad's Land Paperback – October 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: RDR Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571431551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571431554
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,861,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Michael Kohn is one of the most talented new travel journalists on the international scene. Known for his Lonely Planet guidebook to Mongolia, Kohn's inside out exploration of this fascinating country is must reading for anyone who wants to understand the future of the Asian continent. Informative, funny, heart breaking and endlessly fascinating, this book is a page turner that invites comparison to the best of Pico Iyer and Bill Bryson.

About the Author

Michael Kohn is the author of Lonely Planet guidebooks to Mongolia, China and Central Asia. He is currently working on a Lonely Planet guide to Mongolia.

More About the Author

Michael Kohn, a freelance journalist and travel writer, is a specialist on Mongolian culture and society. He has written two books and has published many articles on that country. From 1998 to 2000 he served as the resident foreign editor for the Mongol Messenger, a weekly newspaper in Mongolia. Working as editorial director, photographer, writer, layout artist, and advertising manager, Michael kept the paper alive on a shoestring budget. He simultaneously served as a correspondent for international news outlets, including BBC radio, the Associated Press and the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong). In May 1998 he wrote the AP preview article for Madeleine Albright's visit to Mongolia. In the autumn of that year he chronicled the political crisis in Mongolia with a series of articles for the AP. In August 1999 his stories broke the secret visit to Mongolia by the Bogd Lama, a high lama from India banned in Mongolia.

In the course of these assignments, Michael has interviewed several Mongolian prime ministers and presidents. He has interviewed model Heidi Klum, mountain climber Conrad Anker and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Michael also worked with local media outlets in Ulaanbaatar - volunteering his time at the radio station, TV station and School of Journalism. He appeared in a Mongolian film and hosted a weekly talk radio show. In 1999, a story he wrote on poverty attracted the attention of the British embassy, which donated a stove to the family he interviewed. A visiting CNN news crew filmed the handover ceremony.

When not working, he became acquainted with life on the ground by hitchhiking to the most remote corners of Mongolia, spending weeks at a time with nomadic herders. He has traveled to every Mongolian province, trekked alongside Kazakh eagle hunters, run a marathon on the shores of lake Khovsgol and cycled across Mongolia's northern borderlands.

Michael has visited nearly 70 countries, many of them as a researcher for Lonely Planet. The list of guides he has authored or co-authored include China, Russia, Mongolia, Tibet, Central Asia, Israel & The Palestinian Territories, South Africa, Armenia and the Trans-Siberia Railway. Along the way he has reported on conflicts in Kashmir, Afghanistan and Nepal.

Michael received Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Gail and daughter Molly.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. Voller on March 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
I was sent this book to read and started it in earnest, having not read much travel literature before. I enjoyed it from start to finish. Michael Kohn adopts a very conversational style to tell his story and each episode is told well. He illustrates all the people he met with such detail that by the end you feel you know them and I was heartened to read that he married one of his friends whom he met out there.

Michael tells the story of Mongolia from the cities to the steppes and includes some interesting insights into its political history including its sometimes painful transition from Soviet Communism to a free-market economy. In this reviewer's opinion it made that transition quite well with little of the corruption of the ex-Soviet states to the West.

In short this book brought a whole culture and country to my attention which I had never thought existed; believing as I did that Mongolia was much like an outpost of China. For seasoned travellers and armchair enthusiasts alike, this book will interest you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Any reader looking for a blend of travelogue and cultural understanding will find Dateline Mongolia: An American Journalist in Nomad's Land fits the bill. It tells of the author's journeys through Mongolia and its cultural milieu, from turf wars between lamas and shamans to falcon poachers and exiled Buddhist leaders and child jockeys. His first-person encounters with the peoples of Mongolia bring to life the nation's peoples and culture like no other: any general lending collection strong in travel and cultural exploration - particular Asian cultures - will want this.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. R. Belinda Ryan on May 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
I thought the most hostile review of this book was unreasonable. I worked in Mongolia for several years and found plenty in it that I had not known before. It doesn't set out to be comprehensive and it isn't -it's weak on matters nomadic - but it is both informative and entertaining. I would certainly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Natso on August 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
I found this book on Google Books while researching for Mongolia's hyperinflation in the 90s. Its beginning was so intriguing that I found out that the author still lived in Ulaanbaatar, contacted him and asked to borrow a copy for my research (hey, Mongolia is big but UB is small).

Much to my dismay, the book didn't have much about hyperinflation but I couldn't stop reading it. The stories he wrote happened when I was a little kid barely understanding the news in the 90s, and here was this foreigner working at the only State-run English newspaper, absorbing all the major, monumental events of the Lost Generation*, like the Zorig's assassination, Cold-war era's washed-out bands coming here and the Cameroonians who "introduced" AIDS to Mongolia etc. Reading about these and recalling childhood memories made me really nostalgic.

* -- We call the 90s the Lost Generation (Sapirtsan uye :P), because after Mongolia dropped communist regime, the transformation to democracy was hard on the social psyche and fabric.

As a former-expat Mongolian, I would highly recommend this book to other English-fluent Mongolians, as I believe this gives us an un-redacted, outsider's perspective on the late 90's history, from which we can get our general sense of continuity. Plus, Mongolia doesn't always get covered by English-speaking authors, at least not the modern Mongolia.

But it's not just the facts that he should be applauded for, he had extensively listed out statements, ideologies that resonate with Mongolians (or at least me). He even has the political backdrop right! I remember reading the book and thinking to myself "That's so true!" and "How was he able to make this observation?!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve in Mass on March 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I bought this book in the State Department store while visiting Mongolia in late 2010. It was fun to read about the authors adventures as he went to more places than I did. I felt the book captured the spirit of the somewhat backwards lifestyle and daily struggles suffered by people living in this harsh place.

Mongolia is very different than anywhere I have traveled. A hard place with extreme weather, little social services and support, wide open spaces and extremely interesting people.

The author captured a lot of the things I found interesting in my 10 day visit which began with the 30 hour train ride from Beijing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book overall and provides some good insights into Mongolia. It's essentially a collection of essays from his time in Mongolia. It's a bit light on the history and lacks a deep, nuanced understanding of the country/culture. He's not an expert on Mongolia and it shows, but then he isn't trying to be. He has produced an interesting book about his experiences as a journalist in Mongolia. Well worth reading, but if you want a full picture of Mongolia you'll need to expand your reading list.
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