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Krist, Alone Through the Forbidden Land - Journeys in Disguise through Soviet Ce

Krist, Gustav.

Alone Through the Forbidden Land – Journeys in Disguise through Soviet Central Asia. translated by E.O. Lorimer.

No place (London), Readers’ Union (by arrangement with Faber & Faber Limted), no year (c.1939). 13.5 cm x 22 cm. 271 pages. 46 illustrations on 32 plates. Hardcover [publisher’s original light-brown cloth] with printed lettering on spine. Printed lettering and vignette on front board. Very good condition with only minor signs of external wear. Minor foxing along spine. Interior very bright and clean.

Includes, for example, the following: Guest of the Yomut Turkomans / Across the Qara Qum to Samarqand / Across the Dengiz Bai / Through the Alai Valley on to the Pamirs / Through Uzbegistan / The Domain of the Amu Darya / The Caravan Roads of North Persia etc.

Gustav Krist (1894 – 1937), an Austrian soldier during the First World War, was captured and held prisoner in Central Asia for nearly five years. When he escaped back to Austria in 1920, he became a carpet dealer in Persia, and in 1925, meeting some Turkoman nomads on the shores of the Caspian Sea, he accompanied them back into Central Asia. Using false identity papers, Krist defied the Soviet ban on travel in the region. Krist’s account is exceptional because he focuses largely on the less frequently visited Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Krist travelled with one of the last Turkoman camel caravans that still traded along the old Silk Route through the bleak Kara Kum desert. Thousands of Turkomans were at that time fleeing into the desert to avoid the Red Army.

The Austrian wandered through Bukhara at a time when the vast covered bazaar, which held the last free market in the new Soviet Union, was still thriving. Bukhara was the second most important city in the Islamic world, after Mecca: 21,000 students were studying to be mullahs at the dozens of madrassas, or Islamic colleges, while more than 100 mosques were open in the city. But by 1930 only one madrassa and one mosque remained in operation.
Krist spent an entire winter with the Kyrgyz in the Pamirs in the freezing mountains, at the ‘Roof of the World’ and then accompanied them on their last great trek with their herds of sheep, yaks, horses and camels. ‘To an enormous distance I could see camel train after camel train; the entire horde was on trek, flying from officials of the Soviet . . . hot tears filled my eyes, although I little suspected at the time that I had been the witness of the last march of the free Kirgiz.’
One year later the Soviet authorities rounded up and collectivised the nomads of Central Asia. More than a million Uzbeks, Turkomans, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other tribesmen died as a result.
Krist’s remarkable account of his sixteen month journey captures Central Asia at a time of chage; although the Soviets and the Red Army nominally controlled the region, they were yet to fully consolidate their power. The book is a beautiful evocation of a bygone age that was on the verge of extinction, never to return or to be experienced again. It is essential reading for any one interested in the region and/or students of the period. (The Independent)

Krist also wrote ‘Pascholl plenny!’ (Wien: L. W. Seidel & sohn, 1936), translated by E. O. Lorimer as “Prisoner in the Forbidden Land”.

EUR 78,-- 

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Krist, Alone Through the Forbidden Land, Journeys in Disguise through Soviet Cen