One man’s journey across Turkey, Russia and the United States, propelled by the historical events of the 20th century.
In an apt opening for his story, Bektore discusses his nomadic ancestors and their forced migrations during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the start of World War I. Living in Soviet Turkmenistan, his father was a teacher and writer with nationalist leanings. Traumatically arrested by Soviet forces, he spent the next two decades in prison. Forced to move without him, the author’s family left Russia and settled in Turkey. Bektore writes matter-of-factly about growing up against the backdrop of World War II and Stalin’s rule, starting higher education and meeting his wife. He received an engineering degree, fulfilled a compulsory tour in the Turkish military and, in one of his many engineering jobs tied to contemporary political events, worked at a hydroelectric plant near Istanbul. His father returned to the family in 1956, but despite the reunion, as well as a secure professional future and a comfortable way of life, Bektore again harnessed his nomadic genes and moved to America and found engineering work on nuclear-power projects at the height of the Cold War. While Bektore and his family’s journeys are borne of necessity, not adventure, many of his tales are so rote it keeps them from taking more compelling turns. Ever the professional engineer, the author relays his story in an observant, technical manner, and while the parallels to world history are interesting, readers may wish for more moving insight into the people in his life.
A proficient, knowledgeable but overly detailed recounting of a life impacted by global history.