Carved up and fought over by the British and Tsarist Russia in the 19th century, and under Soviet domination for much of the 20th, the lonely passes, deserts and peoples of the five Central Asian republics have remained shrouded in obscurity. Even Afghanistan, the site of almost constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1978, is little known beyond the media images of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban movement. Martin McCauley draws on his knowledge of the region and its history to provide an account of Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tasikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, from their medieval pasts to the unpredictable present. Illuminating languages and landscapes, cultures and society, he examines the rise of militant Islam and its impact on the region, the push and pull of global economics and politics and possibilities for stability in an inherently unstable part of the world.
Martin McCauley is a specialist on the region and frequently appears as a commentator on regional issues on radio and TV in the UK and the US.