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Red Odyssey: A Journey Through the Soviet Republics Hardcover – May, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the spring of 1990 Akchurin, a former Soviet publisher and journalist, set out from Moscow on a 10,000-mile automobile trip across the non-Russian republics. Both an engrossing adventure and a savvy political commentary, this pungent, revelatory odyssey records an eruption of violence, ethnic conflict and repression in the crumbling empire. Born in Uzbekistan and now living in California, the author profiles a diverse gallery of people, from polygamous Turkmenistan nomads to besieged Kirghiz squatters to an easygoing Tadzhik guitar player whose infatuation with rock music brought tragedy to his clan. Akchurin contends that under Gorbachev the Soviet state reduced its citizens to slaves. He blames the civil war between Azerbaijan and Armenia largely on the Kremlin, which, he argues, manipulated nationalistic tendencies. This travelogue acerbically depicts the surreal nightmare of ordinary people struggling to survive.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Although the Soviet Union no longer exists, Tatar poet Akchurin's observations of life in the moribund superpower are important for several reasons: Red Odyssey goes outside Moscow and looks unflinchingly at life in the southern republics; it contains within its narrative a commentary on the human costs of the failed Soviet experiment; and it manages to weave historical and literary lessons into a sometimes comic, sometimes tragic travelog. Red Odyssey provides ample anecdotal evidence of why the Soviet Union collapsed as well as raising concern for the future of former Soviet citizens. For Soviet studies collections.
- Joseph P. Parsons, Columbia Coll., Chicago
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 406 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060183357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060183356
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,326,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Mcfarland on October 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Marat Akchurin � an Uzbek poet and man of letters - set off on a tour of the Central Asian republics, just as the Soviet Union was crumbling into extinction. This is the travelog of his journey through states and countries that were being thrown into turmoil. It�s fascinating, partly because he�s an Uzbek and therefore able to go to places where westerners can�t, and partly because he went there just at the time the split was getting into full swing.

Even in those days, the Central Asia republics weren�t particularly happy places. Ethnic cleansing in Uzbekistan & Kirghistan rivalled anything we�ve seen in recent years in the former Yugoslavia. Destitution was rife as the final death throws of central planning removed any regularity and certainty from life. And the withdrawal of Soviet troops meant that gangs, mafia and warlord factions were rife. Akturin had a number of lucky escapes from mafioso along the way.

His travels also take the reader thorough the fascinating old Moghul/Silk Road cities of Alma-Ata (now Almaty), Samarkand and Tashkent. You�d be hard pressed to describe them as either glamorous or affluent these days. He finally ends up in Baku, a former naval base for the Imperial Russian navy, and the place where Russian agents used to set off on their journey�s across the steppes to fight their covert war against the British Raj.

The style is free flowing and extremely readable. He may be a poet, but this is factual travel writing with an eye for fascinating detail. The translator has done a fine job in bringing Red Odyssey to an English speaking audience. The maps of his travels are also very good. Four stars.
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