Uzbekistan: travel books to read before you go

This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Central Asia guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

Something about Uzbekistan inspires many expatriates who live there to write a book about their experiences. A few are listed below.

A Carpet Ride to Khiva (2010), by Christopher Aslan Alexander, is practically a must read for anybody looking to understand the culture, traditions, superstitions and quirks of the Uzbek people. The author spent seven years in Khiva launching the Unesco carpet workshop.

Taxi to Tashkent (2007), by Tom Fleming, is the memoir of a 40-year-old Peace Corps volunteer’s time in Uzbekistan in the years before the US government’s flagship volunteer program was kicked out of the country after the Andijon massacre.

Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia, by Tom Bissell, is a sort of travelogue-cum-history-lesson about Uzbekistan written by another former Peace Corps volunteer who returns to investigate the disappearing Aral Sea. It is quick-witted and insightful.

Murder in Samarkand (2007), by Craig Murray, is a damning account of alleged atrocities committed by the Karimov administration, penned by a maverick former British ambassador to Uzbekistan. Equally damning is Murray’s account of his own government’s efforts to discredit him in the context of the ‘War on Terror’.

The Opportunists (2009), by Yohann de Silva, is a suspense thriller about the exploits of a Russian American who flees to Uzbekistan to escape his debts to a Brighton Beach (New York) crime boss. The author spent two years in Tashkent as a US State Department foreign service officer.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.