By Tom Bissell
In 1996, Tom Bissell went to Uzbekistan as a naive Peace Corps volunteer. notwithstanding he lasted just a couple of months prior to disease and private predicament pressured him domestic, Bissell came upon himself entranced by way of this distant land. 5 years later he again to discover the shrinking Aral Sea, destroyed by way of Soviet irrigation rules. becoming a member of up with an exuberant translator named Rustam, Bissell slips greater than as soon as in the course of the clutches of the Uzbek police as he makes his frequently wild strategy to the devastated sea.
In Chasing the Sea, Bissell combines the tale of his travels with a beguiling chronicle of Uzbekistan's awesome tradition and lengthy background of violent subjugation by means of despots from Jenghiz Khan to Joseph Stalin. Alternately fun and sobering, it is a gripping portrait of a desirable position, and the debut of a singularly talented younger author.
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Extra info for Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia
On the Queen Charlotte Islands, in the South Moresby archipelago, conclusive evidence of a completely maritime economy had come to light that was at least 9000 years old — roughly the same vintage as early Namu. Skilled boatmen were harvesting the marine resources throughout the archipelago's Gwaii Haanas island chain at a time when a vast plain extended from the islands almost to the mainland. The seascapes of those days, sketched by paleoecologists, look as if they were meant to illustrate the stories Nuxalk people used to recount from their epic, known as Wanderings of Cormorant, about a vast coastal plain to their north.
But unlike the Lena, the Amur winds its way eastward, forming the present border between China and Russia. It flows down a zooo-kilometer (6oo-mile) course that drains vast low-lying plains on its northern banks and the Greater Khingan Mountains of northern Manchuria to the south. Then the Amur turns abruptly northward for another 500 kilometers (300 miles) or so, flowing down through a broad valley between the Burein Mountains and the Sikhote Alin range. The river finally empties into the Tartar Strait, a narrow waterway that separates Sakhalin Island from the Russian Pacific mainland.
Aleuts, it turned out, had practically nothing to do with that story. By 1980, at the University of Connecticut, the archeologist William Laughlin had summarized his life's work with the Aleuts, which began in 1938. Russian, French, and Danish scientists assisted, and Aleut people volunteered for blood tests, cranial-size 34 THE LAST GREAT SEA surveys, and dental analyses. Laughlin managed to construct a comprehensive historical portrait of the Aleuts, a people renowned for their longevity (before contact with Europeans, Aleuts commonly lived more than 100 years), their good humor, their astonishing physical strength, and their proficiency as mariners.
Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia by Tom Bissell