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Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia

av Tom Bissell

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
2283118,771 (3.78)3
In 1996, Tom Bissell went to Uzbekistan as a na*ve Peace Corps volunteer. Though he lasted only a few months before illness and personal crisis forced him home, Bissell found himself entranced by this remote land. Five years later he returned to explore the shrinking Aral Sea, destroyed by Soviet irrigation policies. Joining up with an exuberant translator named Rustam, Bissell slips more than once through the clutches of the Uzbek police as he makes his often wild way to the devastated sea. In Chasing the Sea, Bissell combines the story of his travels with a beguiling chronicle of Uzbekistan's striking culture and long history of violent subjugation by despots from Jenghiz Khan to Joseph Stalin. Alternately amusing and sobering, this is a gripping portrait of a fascinating place, and the debut of a singularly gifted young writer.… (mer)
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I knew very little about uzbekistan going into this, so I did learn some things from the read.
For a book ostensibly about the Aral Sea, I felt there wasn't much Aral Sea information in it.

I also felt the author was a bit whiny and hyper-critical of everyone else who wrote about Uzbekistan in the past, but perhaps that was justified.
I was left wondering whatever happened to Rustam ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
One of those books that I found myself reading to the exclusion of my usual habits. I did not want to put the book down, and I did not want it to end. That this is Bissell's first book is astonishing, and it speaks to just how deeply ingrained his experiences were. It felt to me as if I was traveling with him, feeling the heat, struggling to understand the culture, excited by the quest, daunted by the distance to be covered. But more than that, I also felt the history unfold around me as Bissell recounted it to me. I learned a great deal about the Uzbeks, Central Asia, the Mongols, and the history of Russia's conquests, about leaders (such as Tamerlane) whose awe-inspiring fearsomeness echoes down to the present day, about architecture and wars upon wars, about countless lives spread over ages -- now lost, now re-animated, unforgotten but forever beyond us.

Bissell's story is at once personable and intimate in its portrayal of his journey, and fairly scholarly in its erudition. I found myself recommending it to anyone who at all seemed interested in the world "out there", because Bissell's writing -- his cadence, his word choices -- increases such interest, resonates with that sense of fascination, amplifies the ideas engendered by what he shares.

The Aral Sea is a backdrop for most of the story, but it is not until the final pages of the book that we reach the rapidly receding shore of the greatest ecological disaster of our age. What is amazing is how reaching this terminal point makes the rest of the book fall into place, creating a configuration that is, quite simply put, stunning. The question raised calls out like a ship's plaintive horn across the waterless waste: What hath man wrought? It is a question the answer to which is unsettling to the heart. But Bissell managed to bring me to that deserted shore, to walk among the dessicated ships stranded there, to be a witness to the outrage there perpetrated against the world, without ever preaching at me or trying to sell me anything. In the end, I felt as if I'd been quietly guided there to see for myself, and my reaction to it was echoed in Bissell's own reaction; our humanity was there in common. ( )
  Moody834 | Jan 6, 2008 |
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Wikipedia på engelska (7)

In 1996, Tom Bissell went to Uzbekistan as a na*ve Peace Corps volunteer. Though he lasted only a few months before illness and personal crisis forced him home, Bissell found himself entranced by this remote land. Five years later he returned to explore the shrinking Aral Sea, destroyed by Soviet irrigation policies. Joining up with an exuberant translator named Rustam, Bissell slips more than once through the clutches of the Uzbek police as he makes his often wild way to the devastated sea. In Chasing the Sea, Bissell combines the story of his travels with a beguiling chronicle of Uzbekistan's striking culture and long history of violent subjugation by despots from Jenghiz Khan to Joseph Stalin. Alternately amusing and sobering, this is a gripping portrait of a fascinating place, and the debut of a singularly gifted young writer.

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