The turbulent chronicle of an overland trip through six Moslem republics of the former USSR, undertaken by Uzbekistani poet/publisher Akchurin in mid-1990 as the Soviet state entered its final year. Leaving wife and home in Moscow, Akchurin drove southeast with a mechanic friend. Their first stop, in the Volga Basin, included a nightmarish encounter with one of the youth gangs raging out of control in that region, complete with brass knuckles and violence, near-rape and a daring escape. On difficult roads further south, the car was damaged, and the mechanic fled with it back to Moscow. Making full use of his Tartar heritage and a network of writer contacts, Akchurin pressed on, hitchhiking, taking trains and taxis, skirting the dying Aral Sea and passing through Turkestan, Alma-Ata, his former hometown of Tashkent, and other cities large and small before finally arriving in Baku. Along the way, the author found sickness and death among his friends, riots and massacres between formerly peaceful Kirghiz and Uzbek neighbors, and the temptations of a Barbie-doll-like state courtesan—as well as another close encounter with thugs in the form of demobilized, drunken soldiers. In the midst of such dangers and confusion, opportunities invariably arose to discuss the future of the Soviet Union, resurgent nationalism, or finer points of regional ancient history with fellow travelers and colleagues—resulting in this sophisticated travelogue of unique historical importance, a window on a region few modern Westerners have seen. Erudite and action-packed, poetic and personable: a must for anyone seeking an unadulterated view of life in the Central Asian republics, still being swept by change. (Thirty-five b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: May 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-018335-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955