Chasing the Sea by Tom Bissell
Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia

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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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Tom Bissell

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Tom Bissell is the author of Extra Lives, Chasing the Sea, God Lives in St. Petersburg, and The Father of All Things. A recipient of the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Bay de Noc Community College Alumnus of the Year Award. He teaches fiction writing at Portland State University and lives in Portland, Oregon.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 416 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Along the way, with nods to classical English and Russian literature and to pop culture, he explores the history of a nation now struggling to overcome a legacy of totalitarian rule—and in the bargain delivers a stinging critique of contemporary clash-of-civilizations writer Robert Kaplan’s accou...

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Publishers Weekly

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The account doesn't flinch from portraying the region's corruption—crooked cops appear regularly on the scene—but despite the frequent bouts of despair, for both the region and himself, Bissell refuses to give up on the Uzbeks entirely.

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