In Search of Kazakhstan

The Land That Disappeared

Christopher Robbins

Robbins became intrigued by Kazakhstan sitting on an aeroplane next to an American from Arkansas on his way there to collect an Internet bride.

The only thing most people know about Kazakhstan is that it is homeland to Borat – and he isn’t even real. Actually this vast place – the last unknown inhabited country in the world – is far more surprising and entertaining. For one thing, it is as varied as Europe, combining stupendous wealth, grinding poverty, exotic traditions and a mad dash for modernity.

Crisscrossing a vanished land, Christopher Robbins finds Eminem by a shrinking Aral Sea, goes eagle-hunting, visits the scene of Dostoyevsky’s doomed first love, takes up residence beside one-time neighbour Leon Trotsky and visits some of the most beautiful, unspoilt places on earth.

First published by Profile (UK) in 2008.


‘cracking tale…both hysterically funny and surprisingly moving…you will savour every page.’
News of the World

‘…extremely entertaining and informative…hilarious.’
Daily Telegraph

‘Robbins is an award-winning travel writer, and writes intelligently about the country’s chequered history. He combines this understated scholarship with a dry humour.’
Sunday Telegraph

‘A superlative addition to the literature of travel.’
The Observer

‘A book you find yourself dipping back into for half-remembered facts and amusement…and one that might just make you want to see for yourself.’
The Bookbag

‘Fast-footed travelogue’
The Times

‘Displays both a sure and light touch’
Daily Express

‘Robbin’s lucid prose won my confidence…he’s terrific company…’
Weekly Guardian

Mail on Sunday

‘Beguiling…Reveals an extraordinary land and amazing culture.’
Simon Callow’s Book of the Year, The Observer

‘Robbins proves a likeable, empathetic narrator.’

‘Has all the makings of a surprise bestseller.’
Daily Sport

‘Completely engaging.’
Belfast Telegraph

‘Robbins has a winning curiosity which isn’t sullied by preconceptions about the place: everything he sees, and relates to us, bears with it the joy of a new discovery.’
The Sunday Business Post (Eire)

‘enthusiastically and infectiously blends history, observation and mini-biographies…A captivating read notable for off-the-cuff candor and measured, eloquent prose.’
starred review in Kirkus Reviews (US)

‘Delightful and masterful travelogue…Highly recommended.’
starred review in Library Journal (US)

‘Engaging…Robbins brings to light a complex and fascinating Kazakhstan…’

‘A handsome travel book in the British tradition…’
San Francisco Chronicle

‘A deceptive little volume…rich and densely textured…Robbins gives his readers, in stylish and engaging prose, a panoramic view of where Kazakhstan came from and where she is going. My favourite book of the year…’
Daily Herald (Utah, US)

‘ Engaging…Robbins breathes life into this history…’
Book Forum

‘Colourful.. Robbins writing is lively and his storytelling informed and captivating. The sum may indeed make for a book that will be read for many years to come.’
Christian Science Monitor

‘An unusually appealing book written by a keenly observant traveller…combines humour, history and an attention to detail…Highly recommended.’
Idaho Statesman

‘A superb piece of travel writing…a reminder that in an age when travel writers go for gimmicks and gags, there is still no substitute for fine writing, detailed research and a carefully considered emotional and intellectual response to the country.’
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

‘If you have a low opinion of travel books and writers, this will change your mind. It is full of history, geography, trivia, whimsy and love. And apples.’
The Courier Mail (Australia)

‘One of the finest travel books of the year.’
The Sun-Herald (Australia)

‘Most unusual and accomplished travel book…’
South African Financial Mail

‘Informative, compelling and humorous…a valuable eye-opener and an entertaining stand-alone.’
The Citizen (South Africa)

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